《TAIPEI TIMES》 Youth groups to stage election forum
From left, Watchout Co project manager Wang Hsi, National Students’ Union of Taiwan president Chen Ku-hsiung, Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy managing director Eddy Lin and Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy secretary-general Chang Yu-meng attend a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: A white paper said that their main concerns included the low birthrate, national sovereignty, housing justice and environmental issues
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy, the National Students’ Union of Taiwan and student associations from more than 30 universities yesterday announced a presidential election youth forum on Dec. 8, inviting parties and candidates to attend and respond to young people’s policy concerns.
Representatives of the groups at a news conference in Taipei released a white paper that includes the three main themes of “implementing generational justice, pursuing sustainable development and respecting diversified values,” as well as nine topics that concern young voters.
Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy managing director Eddy Lin （林彥廷） said that while the two main parties’ candidates have recently made stale comments about changing student loan regulations and encouraging youth entrepreneurship, they did not attend youth events or have “real conversations” with young people about the feasibility of their policies.
The forum, which is to be held at the Taipei International Convention Center in Xinyi District （信義）, is to be a platform for candidates to communicate with young voters directly, instead of using policies as slogans or in word battles, Lin said.
Association secretary-general Chang Yu-meng （張育萌） said the topics in the white paper are national sovereignty, the low birthrate, housing justice, political participation among young people, environmental protection, sustainable energy, education reform, gender inclusion and mental health.
To raise political participation, the Constitution should be amended to lower the voting age to 18, while laws should be changed to lower the minimum age for candidates and election deposits so that more young people can participate in politics, Chang said.
National Students’ Union of Taiwan president Chen Ku-hsiung （陳估熊） said that last year, his group hosted Taipei and New Taipei City mayoral candidates at a forum, so this year 37 student associations, representing more than 300,000 students, hope that the presidential candidates would also respond to the issues.
Online media platform Watchout Co project manager Wang Hsi （王希） said that the company launched an experimental project to provide real-time fact-checking during televised debates in the run-up to last year’s Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, with the service gaining wide public recognition.
The firm would also fact-check speakers at the youth forum, holding candidates accountable by allowing members of the audience to recognize when “exaggerated remarks or empty promises” are made, Wang said.
Young people in Taiwan were born and brought up in a free and democratic society, so the possibility of losing freedom of speech or the right to political participation is unacceptable to them, Lin said when asked to comment on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
“Young Taiwanese were born in a political entity that is in reality separated from China, so we live under a different system,” Wang said when asked to comment on China’s “one country, two systems” formula. “We have freedom of speech and democratic development, as well as a society under the rule of law.”
While rejecting “one country, two systems” is the consensus among the two main parties, there should be a two-factor authentication mechanism to better supervise policies that might affect national sovereignty, because most students hold a clear and consistent attitude on protecting national sovereignty, he said.