United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 30, 2015
Executive Summary: In recent years, the government has been utterly defenseless. The Sunflower Student Movement occupied the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan. High school students ostensibly opposed to curriculum changes broke into the Minister of Education's office. Just prior to this, green camp legislators even vandalized the Ministry of Justice, the nation's highest law enforcement agency. They kicked in the door of the Minister's office as part of their punitive expedition, and accused him of all manner of crimes.
Full Text Below:
In recent years, the government has been utterly defenseless. The Sunflower Student Movement occupied the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan. High school students ostensibly opposed to curriculum changes broke into the Minister of Education's office. Just prior to this, green camp legislators even vandalized the Ministry of Justice, the nation's highest law enforcement agency. They kicked in the door of the Minister's office as part of their punitive expedition, and accused him of all manner of crimes.
People on Taiwan differ on their political allegiance. Some treat governments they dislike as brigands. Therefore they applaud those who engage in illegal trespass. When they see official offices occupied, or their doors kicked in, they consider it well deserved. By contrast, when police arrest students and reporters who broke into the Ministry of Education, they file suit against the Ministry of Education and vilify the police. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen and the ruling heads of 13 counties and muncipalities filed a joint statement. They demanded that the Ministry of Education withdraw its lawsuit. Even the Vice President of NTU stuck his nose in, and denounced the Ministry of Education as "despicable".
Leave the controversy over the curriculum change aside for a moment. Does breaking into government buildings really deserve applause? Does it really constitute courage? Do those who cheer such actions and demand that the Ministry of Education withdraw its lawsuit, actually believe that the government should throw open its doors and allow protesters to come and go as they please? If they do, will DPP ruled counties and municipalities apply the same rules in their own jurisdictions? Take Tainan for example. Property owners protested the Tainan City Government's expropriation of their land for railroads. Residents were angry because Mayor William Lai failed to appear before the City Council. They were kept out of City Hall by large numbers of police. Clearly William Lai does not think the mayor's office and the city government should be open to the public. University presidents and teachers would probably not agree that dissatisfied students have the right to invade the principal's office.
The main reason a democratic society implements the rule of law, is to ensure adherence to objective standards, regardless of who is in power. Based on such objective standards, the law forbids certain actions. People are not exempt merely because they belong to a particular class or enjoy special status. People cannot violate these laws merely because they are displeased with certain agencies. Students and others who illegally invade the MInistry of Education, occupy the Minister's office, damage computers and other items, must be prosecuted in accordance with the law. They are in violation of the codes against criminal trespass and destruction of property. This is true even if they invade ordinary residences, let alone government buildings.
Worse still, some people have attempted to spin the students' conduct as "civil disobedience". Civil disobedience requires the willingness to accept legal sanctions in order to express one's ideas. But students protesting curriculum changes violated laws and broke rules. They then demanded immunity from prosecution. They often invoke the logic of revolution, civil war, and counter-insurgency on democratic Taiwan. This has led to endless absurdities, including the Sunflower Student Movement milksops being cast as "heroes".
These political movements trample over the rule of law. They are providing young students with a very poor lesson in civics, for the following reasons.
One. Citizens must live in peace with others who hold different views. When people differ on policy, they can debate, vote, advocate, and litigate. But they may not adopt the attitude that "Whatever I say, goes." If other people's views differ from one's own, one may not resort to illegal force or coercion. If that is tolerated, whither democracy? Some oppose changes in the curriculum. Some support them. Do those opposed to changes have a monopoly on halos?
Two. Civic debate in a democratic society must be based on facts, not on ignorance or blind obedience. Those opposed to curriculum changes endlessly repeat false arguments. They object to passages such as "The highest mountain peaks in our country are the Himalayas". They claim that "The 2/28 Incident has been omitted". All such allegations are false or misleading. Even the painful ordeal of the comfort women is spun as "voluntary". The Taipei High Administrative Court ruled that "the minutes of curriculum revision meetings and voting records should be made public". This has no bearing on the validity of curriculum decisions, which are still being appealed. Yet those opposed to curriculum changes falsely claim that they are illegal and must not be implemented. Given this twisted logic, "ignorance is strength". Is such behavior befitting self-proclaimed champions of democracy?
Three. Citizens are members of a democratic society. Individual freedom is not unlimited. Struggles between those holding different views must take place within legal limits. If one chooses to fight illegally, but also expects legal immunity, then one is either an ignoramus or a tyrant. Enforcement of the law cannot be selective, based on one's status. Can students invade government offices and engage in vandalism with impunity? Can they break into school buildings and burn their academic records? Can they steal other's property on the streets? If reporters are merely reporting and interviewing subjects, their freedom of expression must be protected. But if they are inciting or participating in illegal conduct, that is a different story. This can all be clarified through investigations and the judicial process. Only then can we know if their actions were legitimate.
A sound civic education teaches students independent thinking. It makes them understand they are members of a community. It teaches them they have legal responsibilities and obligations, and must learn to get along with others. But politicians have actually been inciting student violence, and assuring them that their student status offers them immunity from prosecution. This tramples over the rule of law, and constitutes the nadir of civic education.
繼太陽花學運占領立法院並衝撞行政院後，又有高中生為「 反課綱微調」而侵入教育部長辦公室。在此之前， 綠營立委甚至直搗全國最高執法機關法務部，踢破部長辦公室大門， 興師問罪。
因而對這些非法侵入行為大聲叫好；看到首長辦公室被占據、 大門被踹破，都覺得只是「剛好」而已。相對的， 警察逮捕侵入教育部的學生與記者，教育部依法提告， 反而遭到批評。民進黨主席蔡英文和十三個執政縣市首長共同聲明， 要求教育部撤回告訴；連台大副校長也即興插上一腳， 嚴厲抨擊教育部「可惡」。
英勇行為」嗎？那些按讚、主張教育部應撤告的人， 真的相信政府機關應該大門敞開讓抗議者來去自如？那麼， 民進黨執政的縣市要不要比照辦理？以台南為例， 為了南鐵遷移徵收抗議的群眾，和對賴清德未出席議會而不滿的人， 都被大批警力擋在市府之外；可見， 賴清德並不認為市長辦公室及市府機關是開放區域。 大學校長與教師們， 大概也不會同意學生對校規不滿就有權入侵校長室。
在維持廣大公民可以一體遵行的客觀準則，不因人而異。 基於這個客觀的規範，法律不許可的事， 不會因為某一類人身分特殊而得以豁免，或者因為某些機關、 人物因為不受特定民眾所喜，人們即可任意侵犯。 反課綱學生和其他群眾違法侵入教育部、占領部長室、 毀損電腦等物品，就法論法，違反了刑法的「侵入罪」和「毀損罪」 ，就算他們入侵的只是一般民宅，也一樣有罪，何況是政府機關。
這其實是對「公民不服從」的曲解。「公民不服從」 運動的根本精神，是在願意接受法律制裁的前提下， 進行理念表達的抗爭；而現在，學生為了反課綱， 做出違法逾矩的行為，卻又要求免於法律處分。動輒拿革命、內戰、 戡亂年代的邏輯，套在現在的民主台灣，就出現了無窮無盡的怪論， 這是從太陽花學運以來的荒謬現象，把狗熊當成了英雄。
政策上有不同見解，可以辯論、投票、倡議、訴訟，但態度不能「 唯我獨尊」。如果政策意見與自己不同，就可以謾罵甚至違法衝撞， 那就是用強暴手段脅迫他人退讓，這是什麼民主？有人反課綱微調， 有人支持課綱微調，為何「反」的一方能獨占道德光環？
這次的反課綱論述一再無的放矢，例如所謂「 喜馬拉雅山是我國最高峰」與「二二八事件被刪除」， 都是基於錯誤事實的錯誤批評；而為了抗爭， 居然連慰安婦的痛苦經驗都扭曲成「自願」。再者， 台北高等行政法院只判決「課綱會議紀錄與投票名單應公開」， 並不影響課綱決策的效力，且尚在上訴中，卻能被說成「 違法不應施行」。這種理歪氣壯、無知就是力量的行為， 豈是自命民主鬥士的公民所當為？
即有不同意見進行抗爭，也應在合法的限度內為之。 如果選擇非法抗爭，卻還要法律退讓，這是無知，還是霸道？再說， 法律的施行，不能隨便因「身分」而轉彎。 若學生侵入公署破壞公物可以免罰， 那麼他們是不是可以侵入學校燒毀成績， 或者在街上偷搶財物也該無罪？記者的行為， 若只是單純在現場從事報導與採訪，其言論自由自應加以保護； 但若是以運動「指導者」或「參與者」的身分參與， 那情況便有不同。這些，都可以透過司法程序的偵查加以釐清， 才知道正當性如何。
認識自己作為社會一分子的法律責任和義務，學習與他人相處之道。 現在，居然是政治人物唆使學生盲動，並告訴他們可以「學生」 身分享受不被法律規約的特權；這真是踐踏法治、 扭曲公民概念的最糟示範。