Almost Two Months

Almost two months have passed since I first arrived in Taiwan!

The two weeks that I stayed with Su Beng in March were extremely fruitful. Through Su Beng I have met so many people who will be able to help with the research I'm doing to complete his biography.

I've also seen how his assistant Bin Hong is right there by his side, always keeping him up to date with what's going on on Facebook.

While I was staying with Su Beng I purchased a new computer for him with some of the funds raised by the MAKING HISTORY crowdfunding campaign. I had the help of a few friends who know quite a bit more about computers than me. First we assessed what kind of computer Su Beng needed and then we went on a little shopping trip to pick out the computer.  Special thanks for this- you know who you are!

I already knew that Su Beng is quite a foodie, but this time I also learned that sometimes he likes to indulge in pizza and especially Kentucky Fried Chicken- which is a favourite of his!

While staying with Su Beng I discovered that keeping up with his schedule is a full-time job in it and of itself! I've been trying to find a balance- between getting involved with everything Su Beng has going on and doing the research that I need to do.

Now that I am back at my uncle's place in Shi Lin, I've been focusing on arranging interviews with people for background research on the biography of Su Beng. I still meet with and see Su Beng several times a week. 

These are exciting, historic times to be in Taiwan. When the Kuomintang attempted to bypass a review of the cross-strait services agreement, sit-ins began on March 17th. The agreement is essentially a trade pact between China and Taiwan. Protesters believe that the trade pact will have a negative impact on Taiwan's economy and civil liberties.

Things escalated on the evening of March 18th when a group of about 300 students and protesters broke into the Legislative Yuan (LY) building and occupied it in protest. Their initial plan was to stay until March 21-- the day that the LY was scheduled to vote and pass the trade pact. 

As soon as I heard about the break in, I went over to the LY to see what was happening for myself.

 Riot police stationed at 青島東䟯 and 鎭江街 on the night of March 18, 2014.

Riot police stationed at 青島東䟯 and 鎭江街 on the night of March 18, 2014.

Since then, thousands have been gathering in the areas surrounding the LY building in support. The protest, now dubbed the Sunflower Movement is going into its third week. During this time, I've been to the LY site several times with Su Beng.

 Rain or shine, protestors have been gathered outside in areas around the Legislative Yuan.

Rain or shine, protestors have been gathered outside in areas around the Legislative Yuan.

 Su Beng speaking to the people gathered at the front entrance of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. (March 20, 2014)

Su Beng speaking to the people gathered at the front entrance of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. (March 20, 2014)

I was also with Su Beng when he went to Taichung to teach a two-day class (March 22-23).

With no response from the government, another group of students and protesters stormed the Executive Yuan and occupied it on the night of March 23rd, but it was short lived. Water canons were used to expel the protesters. The police also cracked down by forcefully removing the approximately 2,000 protestors inside and outside of the building. 

 Back in Taipei from Taichung, we saw 6-7 police vehicles rushing toward the Executive Yuan. (March 23, 2014)

Back in Taipei from Taichung, we saw 6-7 police vehicles rushing toward the Executive Yuan. (March 23, 2014)

As part of my research here I was planning to meet with the authors of the book 史明口述史(SU BENG AN ORAL HISTORY), which was published last year. The authors of the book were students at the National Taiwan University when they first met Su Beng in 2005. At the time, Su Beng had been sitting in front of the National Taiwan University for 13 days (March 15-26) in silent protest of China passing the anti-secession law.

Now nine years later, those students have graduated and several of them are involved with the Sunflower Movement. So I'm not sure if any of them will be able to meet with me right now, but hopefully I will be able to meet with a few of them at some point.

Over the years, Su Beng has been invited to meet with several student activist groups, and that's how Su Beng first met student activist and leader of the Sunflower Movement, Lin Fei-fan.

On March 27th Su Beng was able enter the Legislative Yuan chambers which has been occupied by students and protestors.

While he was there he was greeted by Lin Fei-Fan who is a student activist and one of the movement's leaders.

While in the LY chambers, Su Beng spoke to the students and told them amongst other things, that "The future of Taiwan is on your shoulders now [...] The Taiwanese need to stand up and rule for themselves." Then he sang his TAIWAN NATIONALISM song to the students as they clapped along.

Afterwards, the students chanted "Retract the trade pact! Save democracy!" a few times to express their resolve. Upon hearing this, Su Beng said, "I wanted to encourage you, but instead it is you who have encouraged me."

With still no response from President Ma to the protesters demands, the Sunflower Movement called on people to participate in the Protect Our Democracy Rally in Taipei on Sunday March 30th. Su Beng was there of course with his Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade.

Photo 2014-3-30 下午5 21 57.jpg

Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps up to 500,000 participated in the Protect Our Democracy rally on Sunday, March 30th.

Yesterday, Su Beng visited the Legislative Yuan again. This time it was to personally deliver some KFC for the students to eat.

 Student activist Lin Fei-fan came and greeted Su Beng

Student activist Lin Fei-fan came and greeted Su Beng

I'll end this post by sharing the music video for a song called 島嶼天光 [Island Sunrise] about the Sunflower Movement. The music video made by the students the National Taipei University of Arts and there's a cameo appearance of Su Beng in it! I recognize the clip of him from first time time he visited the occupied Legislative Yuan.