The leadership within the Legislative Yuan had to take the heat on a number of issues through the course of the movement. First and foremost, there were those who disagreed with a small group of people calling the shots for the movement as a whole within the Legislative Yuan. After all, for a movement which opposed an “black box” process lacking transparency that it claimed to be undemocratic, for many, the decision-making process within the Legislative Yuan constituted another “black box.” As such, some felt that the core decision-making group within the Legislative Yuan reproduced the issues of democracy that the movement as a whole confronted.
On the other hand, those within the Legislative Yuan defended their actions as necessary because it was not physically possible to allow all those who participated in the movement to vote on decisions. For example, where does one draw the line between those who can vote for the movement and those who cannot? In a movement such as the Sunflower Movement, completely transparency also proved impossible when this would have meant telegraphing one’s actions to the police ahead of time. In part, because of issues of trust, the decision-making body relied on preexistent personal networks of individuals that they already knew they could rely on, but this may have led many to feel that the decision-making process was caught in the hands of a small group of people.
In this light, many of the issues of the movement may return to larger issues of representative versus direct democracy, even if a radical form of democracy was also an avowed aspiration of the movement at times.
It also seems likely that the core decision-making body within the Legislative Yuan was blamed for events outside of their control. For example, internal disorganization and the inexperience of some social movement participants may have led to overly bureaucratic processes, with multiple people claiming to be acting on behalf of authority when this “authority” stemmed more or less from a game of telephone and did not actually have any link to the core decision-making body within the Legislative Yuan.
Photo credit: Toomore Chiang/Flickr/CC
Particularly controversial decisions included 324, with those in the Legislative Yuan knowing ahead of time about the plan to charge the Executive Yuan but deciding to draw a line of separation between themselves and the Executive Yuan so that any negative impact of the Executive Yuan would not reflect on the Legislative Yuan encampment and endanger the movement as a whole. For many, this felt like a betrayal of those engaged in the Legislative Yuan action.
As some individuals made attempts to get into the Legislative Yuan in the hopes of directly establishing connections between the inside and the outside of the Legislative Yuan, when those in the Legislative Yuan thought that opening up the legislature to access by all could be dangerous, also proved controversial. Again, for some, this rang of lacking transparency. The decision to hold a large-scale march on 330 then withdraw on 410 also proved controversial, with some believing that the energy of the movement could still be channelled elsewhere, to other productive purposes, and that this was calling it quits too early.
Later on, to address such controversies, an investigation working group, the “324 Truth And Reconciliation Working Group” would be formed by National Taiwan University sociology department Ph. D student Lin Chuan-Kai (林傳凱), who had been one of the organizers of the Department of Social Sciences Group, and who was a researcher into the history of the White Terror. This group conducted over 60 interviews and produced a report on the events of 324, released on the two year anniversary of 324 in 2016. They would also organize a walking tour of the key events of 324 with the Untouchables’ Liberation area in 2016. This investigation group, in part, sought to gather facts about police violence for future legal evidence, in cooperation with the Judicial Reform Foundation, and ultimately was critical of what it viewed as state violence in its report.
Still other controversies resulted from the messaging of those that made decisions within the Legislative Yuan. For example, Taiwanese independence groups perceived their message as suppressed within the movement because of fear of public backlash and there were incidents such as the removal of a rainbow flag also for fear of public backlash, although it is not entirely clear who was behind these actions.