by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Brian Hioe

BLUEBIRD MOVEMENT DEMONSTRATIONS have continued to take place outside of the legislature. Even if demonstrations are not as large as in May and June, in July, this has occurred on several occasions.

On July 3rd, demonstrators protested against efforts by the KMT to lower the benchmark needed to recall elected public officials in Taiwan. While the KMT claimed that this was to prevent “revenge recalls” from being weaponized in Taiwanese politics, the KMT was seen as calling for benchmarks to be raised as a means of protecting KMT politicians in the wake of the Bluebird Movement protests.

Namely, even if the demonstrations were not successful in preventing the KMT from passing amendments that allowed for the expansion of legislative powers, after the protests there were calls for recalls of hated KMT politicians. As such, though the KMT had often employed recalls against pan-Green politicians in past years, this led to the KMT aiming to raise benchmarks for referendums, especially with the aim of protecting Keelung mayor George Hsieh. Further angering of the public was that at one point, the KMT tried again to jump committee review to pass the amendments to raise benchmarks for referendums. This was seen as a move circumventing oversight measures in the legislature, much as the KMT had initially angered the public by skipping committee review with the legislative powers.

Subsequently, Bluebird Movement demonstrations occurred again outside of the legislature on July 9th and July 10th. This was against efforts by the KMT to call for nuclear restarts. Discussion on potential nuclear restarts was later called off by the KMT, a move that demonstrators hailed as marking the success of public pressure on the KMT through demonstrations.

Similarly, protests have been called for outside the legislature on July 12th, 14th, and 15th. This is when the KMT intends to take up the issue of the National Communication Commission (NCC). In particular, the pan-Blue camp has convened an investigative committee regarding the approval of Mirror TV’s broadcast license and through changes to the Satellite Broadcasting Act hopes to put CtiTV back on air. Mirror TV is pan-Green-leaning, while CtiTV was reported on by the Financial Times and Apple Daily as directly accepting funding and direction from the Chinese government in the past. In this sense, the KMT aims to target pan-Green media, while benefiting media that favor the pan-Blue camp.

Instagram post by the Economic Democracy Union about further protests

To this extent, the KMT has called for putting the NCC under the effective control of the legislature, in changing representation on the NCC to be proportional based on the number of seats in the legislature. This proves similar to how the KMT not only sought to expand legislation powers through its proposed legislation to grant the legislature powers normally belonging to the judiciary and executive but called for reinstating government bodies used for investigating corruption such as the Special Investigation Division under legislative control rather than the Ministry of Justice.

The KMT aims to control what is broadcast in Taiwan, too, then. Angering of the public was also a proposal from the KMT that would have effectively frozen the Constitutional Court, shortly before the Constitutional Court was due to rule not the KMT’s expansion of legislative powers. This would have taken place by way of not allowing for judicial decisions to be made with less than ten justices. If so, if the KMT can block any attempts at appointing new judges after seven of the current fifteen justices’ terms end in October, then the Constitutional Court would not be able to function.

In this way, the KMT aims to change the fundamental balance of power in Taiwanese politics. Indeed, the KMT also recently called for justices on the Constitutional Court to recuse themselves with the aim of influencing the upcoming judgment on the powers.

Still, the Bluebird Movement protests have clearly expanded beyond a narrow focus on the KMT’s pursuit of new powers. Rather, one has seen a number of traditional pan-Green causes—many of which were major social movements that fed into the Sunflower Movement in 2014—taken up by the movement. Likewise, the Economic Democracy Union, which itself played a major role in the Sunflower Movement and its aftermath, continues to be the main force directing the movement. One expects Bluebird Movement demonstrations to continue, then, even if it is unclear whether they will reach the intensity of preceding protests in May and June.

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