Sunflower Seeds – Island Sunrise, Kaohsiung

wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0057-(by Benedict Young)

The Sunflower Movement is not over; the seeds of activism that spread during the Legislative Yuan occupation in March are now blossoming into new movements and groups.

For example, the humorously named “Appendectomy Project” 割闌尾計畫, which seeks to remove local KMT officials from their posts by process of recall election – like cutting out a diseased appendix to help bring the sick country back to health. Another organisation called “Taiwan March” 島國前進 was spawned last week by the Sunflower Movement student leaders Lin Fei-Fan and Chen Wei-Ting; the goal of the organisation is to keep pushing for positive political change in Taiwan and to continue lobbying for a law to monitor all sensitive agreements across the Taiwan Strait. Other groups and forums have sprung up all around the country, such as “”, an online open source community that is rethinking the government’s role in Taiwan via sharing of information and ideas and “Taiwan Voice”, who are doing a great job making the information about the continuing movement available in English and so accessible to the wider world. Pictured are the newly formed “Taiwan Flag” activists, who set up just days before today’s event.

wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0060-(by Benedict Young)

Today’s “Island Sunrise: People Rise up to Take Action” event in Kaohsiung combined talks on political reform with a free outdoor concert.

Featuring performances from Lin Sheng-xian 林生祥, Panai and Fire Ex 滅火器 – the Kaohsiung band who wrote the Sunflower Movement’s anthem, that was sung by hundreds of thousands during a mass protest in Ketagalan Bvd – the concert was rousing and enjoyable. The ongoing protest movement in Taiwan is attracting people of all ages and backgrounds, but particularly it seems, people with a creative bent. From the start, the Sunflower Movement and its offshoots have vividly expressed themselves with art and music; the multimedia, internet and social media support have also been innovative, professional and impressively organised.

wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0011-(by Benedict Young)

wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0014-(by Benedict Young)

These events, movements and forums are all being put together, I might add, by volunteers working in their own time and who are usually very busy with other things also.

The cutting edge and aesthectically pleasing way these political reform movements in Taiwan have presented themselves via websites, music, photos, videos, graphic art and events is in itself a kind of middle finger up to the establishment in Taiwan.

The KMT, despite being the richest political party in the entire world, continue to churn out nothing but hideous, unnavigable websites and appallingly designed visuals which shout “old-fashioned and out of touch” as their party promotion. It’s worth mentioning the opposition DPP doesn’t fare much better in the design stakes; which makes this another feature that sets this movement apart from the old-fashioned pan-blue vs pan-green face-off. Today’s politicised youngsters don’t want to pidgeon-holed as either KMT or DPP; they have individual views and want a new direction for their country.

Below: Chen Wei-Ting is interviewed by media at the Island Sunrise event in Kaohsiung
wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0001-(by Benedict Young)

The current regime in Taiwan comes across as stuffy and does not appear to support or even recognise the creative potential in their people; certainly the tremendous creativity and innovativeness here is not being utilised at the top-level for the benefit of the country as it should be. This could explain why the ruling KMT’s current policies appear to be saying that selling the country’s assets off to booming China is the only way to go, rather than making the best of the talent they have to draw on and attempting a reinvention of their country’s economy and society. It feels as if an unstoppable flurry of creativity is now being released in retaliation to these backwards thinking policies that are at best stuck in the 1980’s and at worst still harking back to the Chinese civil war era.

Frustration with the government’s inflexible attitude and refusal to listen to opinions on policy decisions has boiled over into an explosion of revolutionary artistry and creativity.

It is hugely to the credit of the Taiwanese people that this frustration has not resulted in an explosion of violence; one can only hope that this soft, imaginative approach will be powerful enough to succeed in making Taiwan a much better place, or at very least stop it from getting much worse or disappearing off the face of the Earth completely.

Below: Chen Wei-ting and Lin Fei-fan give a talk on political reform.
wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0131-(by Benedict Young)
wp-1400-Pier2TaiwanMarch-20140525-0080-(by Benedict Young)


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