Taipei mayor meets with stu­dent protesters, calls for self-re­straint

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je went to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion (MOE) Fri­day to meet a crowd of ac­tivists — mostly high school and col­lege stu­dents — who were stag­ing a sit-in protest there against re­vised se­nior high school history cur­ricu­lum guide­lines.

The mayor brought with him cook­ies for the protest­ing stu­dents and the po­lice main­tain­ing or­der at the site, be­cause, he said, eat­ing sweets can in­duce a bet­ter mood. He called for the stu­dents to ex­press their opin­ions in a ra­tio­nal and peace­ful man­ner and to ex­er­cise self-re­straint.

Ko also urged the protesters to re­frain from caus­ing trou­ble and putting pres­sure on the po­lice, who he de­scribed as “the peo­ple’s nurses, not a na­tional en­emy.”

“Af­ter all, Tai­wan so­ci­ety is civ­i­lized. The right to protest is a right of the peo­ple, but it should not be ex­er­cised too dras­ti­cally,” Ko said.

He fur­ther said that he hopes the MOE can reach con­sen­sus with the stu­dents on the cur­ricu­lum guide­line is­sue as soon as pos­si­ble, adding that he does not wish to see Tai­wan fall into con­flict be­tween two ex­tremes be­cause of dif­fer­ent ide­olo­gies.

Asked whether he would guar­an­tee that the po­lice will not take ac­tion to dis­perse the sit-in in front of the MOE build­ing, the mayor promised no ex­ces­sive use of force by the po­lice, but asked the protesters to dras­tic be­hav­ior.

“As long as ev­ery­one stays calm, I prom­ise there won’t be a dis­per­sal ac­tion,” Ko said.

His re­marks re­ceived a warm re­sponse from the protesters, some of whom shouted “thank you, mayor.”

A se­ries of anti- cur­ricu­lum guide­line protests be­gan last year af­ter the MOE de­cided to “up­date” the history cur­ricu­lum guide­lines based on the Con­sti­tu­tion and the act gov­ern­ing re­la­tions be­tween the peo­ples on the two sides of the Tai­wan Strait.

The re­vi­sions, how­ever, were de­nounced by some history teach­ers and Tai­wan in­de­pen­dence ad­vo­cates, who claim that the changes were made from “the per­spec­tive of Chi­nese uni­fi­ca­tion” and in a process that was not trans­par­ent. The re­vised cur­ricu­lum guide­lines are sched­uled to take ef­fect Aug. 1.

To stop the text­book guide­lines from be­ing im­ple­mented, ac­tivists have been gath­er­ing at the MOE since Thurs­day, de­mand­ing the with­drawal of the con­tro­ver­sial guide­lines, that Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Wu Se-hwa step down, and that the MOE drop charges against protesters ar­rested the pre­vi­ous week for break­ing into the MOE build­ing.

The po­lice have warned the protesters that their assem­bly is illegal, but have been ig­nored.

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