更新時間 2013年9月29日, 格林尼治標準時間12:52
Wiretapping, China Policy Fuel Taiwan Protesters’ Discontent
The 53-year-old construction worker hadn’t been to a political protest in decades. But he took a 1.5-hour train ride in from Miaoli County in central Taiwan on Sunday morning to join thousands of protesters outside President Ma Ying-jeou’s residence.
“The wiretapping is what I cannot accept,” he said, his teeth flashing red from the juice of betel nuts, a tobacco-like chew popular in Taiwan’s smaller towns, referencing recent revelations that a division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office tapped legislators’ telephones.
According to police estimates, the crowd in the streets Sunday swelled to as many as 5,500. The wiretapping controversy as well as Mr. Ma’s pursuit of closer trade ties with China has left many Taiwanese concerned about the direction of their democratic island.
That Mr. Ma found the protests a potential threat was evident in his decision to delay the 19th National Congress of his ruling Kuomintang, also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party, from its original date Sunday to late October.
The protests were fueled partly by recent revelations that the Special Investigations Division tapped legislators’ phones. President Ma has said the wiretappings, if conducted legally, were necessary for an investigation into improper lobbying. Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng was captured in various phone recordings allegedly lobbying the justice minister and chief prosecutor over a case involving another legislator, according to the SID. No charges have been filed against Mr. Wang, the justice minister or the chief prosecutor, and the three have denied allegations that Mr. Wang improperly lobbied.
But Mr. Huang apologized Saturday night in a hastily arranged news conference for having “created confusion in society,” and said his division had unintentionally wiretapped the switchboard number of Taiwan’s legislature for four months.
As with Edward Snowden’s revelation of extensive wiretapping in the U.S., the incident has raised fears of state invasion of privacy in Taiwan.
It has also stirred up bitter memories of the island’s era of martial law under the KMT that lasted from 1949 until 1987, during which dissent was not tolerated. Some protesters in Taiwan suspect that Mr. Ma’s administration took to wiretapping in an attempt to remove Mr. Wang, a political rival and a senior member of the KMT with considerable clout, from office. Mr. Ma has denied the case had any political motivation.
On Sunday, protesters also said they were concerned about Taiwan’s general direction, especially closer ties in recent years to Beijing, which still holds reunification as its ultimate goal. Taiwan’s economic malaise compared with neighbors like South Korea is also a sore point, especially since many citizens voted for Mr. Ma because he promised economic growth.
About a month ago, the government trimmed its GDP growth target for the year to 2.31% from 2.40%. Wage growth has lagged inflation over the past decade, economists say.
“We knew Ma Ying-jeou was going to bring Taiwan closer to China, but we thought it would maybe happen near the end of his second term [which would end in 2016],” said Neil Peng, a screenwriter who gave a speech to protesters Sunday from the roof of a green truck rigged with megaphones. “It has happened a lot faster.”
In keeping with Taiwan’s tradition of colorful political protests, the demonstrators on Sunday threw old shoes at pictures of Mr. Ma and other officials, took turns clambering up on the megaphone-equipped trucks to lead shouts of slogans, and passed out stickers reading “F— the government.”