Part V: The challenges of the ART’s limited resources

An Interview with Professor Tsay, Chairman of the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan (ART)

FL: How did you get the permit to set up a base in front of the Legislative Yuan?

PT: At the beginning of the sit-in, we had to fight against the police department for our rights to freedom of speech and expression, and to be on the street. They randomly issued us fines of NT$30,000 based on sanitary violations. In 2009 the fines totaled NT$840,000. We have convinced them through our disciplined action that we are practicing a nonviolent struggle. We also asked DPP city councilpersons and representatives to help by exerting pressure on the city police department and on the Legislative Yuan, respectively. More importantly, we have received support from everyday people. Taiwanese people have donated money to pay off the fines.

Gradually, the police department came to a mutual understanding with us and we got a permit from the city government which required paying a deposit of NT$30,000 into an account of the Taipei City government for a permit to stay on the street for two days. These funds were refunded to us almost 45 days later.

FL: So is the NT$30,000 deposit something separate and different than the NT$30,000 of fines for sanitary violations?

PT: Yes, they are different.

We now must pay NT$660,000 so that we can have permit to stay on the street continuously without any disruption. The amount of NT$660,000 is calculated on the base of a 45-day period.

FL: Has the ART paid or raised enough money to entirely paid the NT$660,000 fee? Will there be any further fees since the ART has been staging a sit-in for over 900 days? Will there be any further fees that the ART has to pay for a continuous sit-in?

PT: The fee is required by Taipei City Government regulations. We had a fund raising dinner last year. Most of the money raised has been used to meet this regulation requirement. However, we have become short for daily operational funds. We believe that the KMT is using the tactics of sucking up our monetary resources in order to push us away from the continuous street sit-in. We do not know what kind of fees or fines are to be paid under any accusations from the police department in the future. We are determined to continue the street sit-in in order to accumulate sufficient momentum for all reforms of the KMT system in the interest of Taiwan’s citizens.

FL: What sorts of expenses does the ART have now? What will people's donations to the ART be used for?

PT: We have one part-time and one full-time employee, rent an office for receiving telephones and mails, a small warehouse for storage, and offer free lunch boxes to volunteer workers and participants at the sit-in. Most of the money has been spent on the protest activities to prepare direct marketing materials, booklets, posters, etc. Sometimes, there are expenses to run an advertisement in a newspaper to disseminate rally information, which takes a chunk of our limited resources. Often we send text messages to supporters inviting them to attend flash rallies. The costs of sending these text messages have accumulated to a monthly fee that was beyond our expectations.

FL: If people would like to support the work that the ART is doing where can they send their donations?

PT: We certainly welcome donations. We do need the financial support of our friends as we work to promote awareness about the fight for human rights and democracy in Taiwan.

Anyone who wants to support the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan can wire their funds to:

E.Sun Commercial Bank, Ltd. Taipei, Taiwan (SWIFT Code: ESUNTWTP), Account No.: 0532-940-006394, payable to title of Alliance of Reference for Taiwan.

Any assistance is highly appreciated. Thank you for supporting our work to achieve democracy and freedom in Taiwan.