From the Worldwide Faith News archives

TCN: PCT takes part in May 17 national protest rallies

From "Lydia Ma" <>
Date Thu, 21 May 2009 17:54:24 +0800

>Taiwan Church News

>2986 Edition

>May 18~24, 2009

PCT takes part in May 17 national protest rallies

>Reported by staff reporters

>Written by Lydia Ma

On May 17th, members from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) joined  thousands of protesters in a national rally near the Presidential Palace  on Ketagalan

Boulevard. Holding signs that read “Safeguard Sovereignty”,  “Fight for Human Rights”, “Save Taiwan”, and  “Safeguard Democracy”, the group was warmly

introduced as a pioneer of human rights in Taiwan and greeted with loud  cheers from the public. The PCT marched with other protesters to the  front of the

Presidential Palace as Taiwanese people voiced their determination to  protect their country.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen had visited  PCT headquarters the day before the rally and met with General Assembly  Moderator

Leonard Lin and other members from the PCT. She said the visit was one  of the most important items on her agenda and also noted that ever since  she assumed

leadership of the DPP, the PCT had always provided strong moral support.  She thanked the PCT for supporting the rally on May 17.

On the day of the rally, four columns of marchers under themes such as  “Safeguard Sovereignty,” “Save Jobs,” “Protect  the Disadvantaged,” and “Protect Taiwan”

took different routes before converging in front of the Presidential  Palace in Taipei. A fifth group was assembled by Alliance of Referendum  for Taiwan in support

of an independent Taiwan and a fair trial for former President Chen  Shui-bian.

In Kaohsiung, several social organizations joined hands to organize a  mass rally as well. PCT Moderator Leonard Lin represented the PCT at the  rally in

Kaohsiung while General Secretary Andrew Chang led church members who  attended the rally in Taipei.

In Taipei, just before marchers from the group “Safeguard  Sovereignty” began their route, former PCT General Secretary  William J.K. Lo led in prayer. Besides

praying for God’s kindness upon Taiwanese people and God’s  protection of Taiwan’s sovereignty, Lo also pled that God would  help Taiwan become a new and

independent country and successfully become a member of the United  Nations.

According to Chang, Taiwanese people had urged President Ma to  reconsider his ways and change his course just before the visit of  Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin

last year. Disregarding public opinion, the President pressed on ahead  with his China-leaning policies and even banned displays of Taiwanese  flags during Chen’s

visit. Sensing Ma’s disregard for Taiwan’s sovereignty in  favor of achieving speedy unification with China, the people finally  took to the streets in protest to

>safeguard their country’s sovereignty.

Chang also said that more confrontations and clashes could be expected  in the future as people rise up to protect their country. This  phenomenon is partly due to

laws that make referenda on important national matters very difficult to  pass during elections, forcing people to have few alternatives.

Commenting on the prolonged detainment of former President Chen  Shui-bian and the PCT’s official stand on this issue, Chang pointed  out some humanitarian and

human rights concerns surrounding how this issue was being handled.  Though Chang was clear that the former President was subject to the law  and should be tried

under the law, he also emphasized the importance of ensuring that  procedural law would always be followed during the trial process. Chang  also warned that

unjustified and prolonged detainment would only increase people’s  doubts about the fairness Chen’s trial on graft charges.

When he was interviewed about why he was protesting against President  Ma, PCT Associate General Secretary Sing ‘Olam said bluntly that  President Ma should

repent of his ways. He also called on Ma to apologize for making  derogatory comments about aboriginal people back in December 2007 when  Ma said “I will treat

you like a person ... and I will educate you well and provide you with  opportunities.”

Rev. Sing ‘Olam said that besides apologizing, the President should  research the hardships aboriginal people face in daily life. Sing  ‘Olam criticized the Council of

Indigenous Peoples Minister Chang Jen-Hsiang for being out of touch with  aboriginal people though she was an aboriginal herself and an official  appointed by Ma.

Though not many youths from the PCT participated in the protest held on  May 17, the number of church youths that have been taking part in  similar events in recent

months have increased steadily. This trend is most obvious in the past  year after the election of the Ma administration followed by  China-leaning policies. PCT

Youth Ministry Committee Secretary Etan Pavavalong said PCT youths  nowadays are not very concerned about national affairs. However, the  recent turn of

national events has prompted more youths to think about the future of  Taiwan and get involved.

Etan admitted candidly that many youths in the church believe issues  such as the future of the country, environmental protection, and  indigenous culture are not part

of the Christian faith and church and society should not be mixed  together. These youths forget that worshipping God extends beyond church  walls into other areas

of life, including taking care of our land. Etan said part of the  problem may be that younger generations are unaware of the PCT’s  statement of faith, as many local

>churches do not teach about it often enough.


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