From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
TCN: PCT takes part in May 17 national protest rallies
"Lydia Ma" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thu, 21 May 2009 17:54:24 +0800
>Taiwan Church News
>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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