Sunflower Movement Commemorated

Sunflower Remembrance - Students cheer during a gathering to mark the first anniversary of the protest-movement occupation of the legislature

Civic groups and politicians commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Sunflower Movement protest that saw demonstrators opposing the proposed Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (CSSTA) with China seize control of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber.

An organization known as the People as Masters Association led a demonstration outside the Legislative Yuan on March 18 to advocate revisions to the law to make it easier to pass referendums. It was joined by the Citizen 1985 Action Alliance and the Appendectomy Project, which recently led a recall movement against firebrand Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Alex Tsai.

The Sunflower Movement began on the night of March 18, 2014, when a group of students stormed the Legislative Yuan building to protest what they perceived as the ramrodding through the legislature of the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement. The students were joined by various civic groups and occupied the main legislative chamber for three weeks before being persuaded to give up the sit-in under the promise that the CSSTA and all trade pacts with China would be subject to close scrutiny by the Legislative Yuan.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle discussed the impact of the movement on Taiwan’s politics and civil society. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, an independent allied with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) described the Sunflower Movement as “the most important movement over the past few years.” He said it galvanized Taiwan’s youth to become more engaged with Taiwan’s politics and its future, and said it influenced his own decision to run for mayor.

On behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou, the Presidential Office said that the anniversary required humble introspection from political leaders and that the government needed to stand with the people. KMT Chairman Eric Chu highlighted the necessity of listening to the younger generation’s needs and priorities, declaring “there is only hope with young people, and only a future with young people.”