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TCU “not ruling out” cooperation with Sunflowers movement
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-11 02:40 PM
The Sunflowers student movement with its youth and enthusiasm for public issues spurred both ruling and opposition legislators into recognizing the need to amend certain laws and revise the constitution including lowering the minimum voting age to 18 years of age. Lin Feng-jeng, one of the founders of the Taiwan Citizen Union (TCU), which is looking to nominate candidates in the 2016 elections for the Legislative Yuan, said Saturday that the TCU supports lowering of the voting age and does not rule cooperating with the student movement in the future on other issues.

KMT Legislator Lu Hsiu-yan sent a message to the Executive Yuan last week noting that in about 90 percent of countries around the world the minimum voting age is 18 years old while in Taiwan it is 20 years old. She said the age threshold in Taiwan should be lowered to bring it in line with the rest of the world and to enable more youth on the island to participate in public affairs.

The Interior Ministry has pointed out that these days information of all kinds is readily available and convenient, and universal education means that the public and political attitudes of young people mature faster than ever before. This means that many people 18 years of age are capable of understanding politics and knowing their rights and obligations as citizens. There is general agreement in the community that lowering the age of suffrage can add momentum to movements for political reform such as the revision of the constitution.

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung, who in the past has submitted a proposal to lower the voting age to 18, says there is no reason for maintaining the threshold at 20. DPP Secretary General Kao Chih-peng has made proposals for a constitutional amendment to set the voting age at 18. He admits that the high threshold may be hard to change and will call for a high degree of consensus to change.

Lin Jen-feng notes that the TCU is currently discussing the voting age issue in many places around Taiwan. He explains that young people everywhere – even including many high school students – are eager to participate in talks on the subjects. "In the past most people were not in favor of giving people the power to participate in the decision-making process as such an early age, but the social atmosphere has changed." He thus thinks that the drive to lower the minimum voting age now has a legitimate chance to succeed.

Lin explains that the TCU and other groups are "organizing" all over Taiwan to gauge public opinion and determine what their next step should be as the year-end seven-in-one elections draw near. The TCU sees itself playing the role of a ‘catalyst’ helping social and political movements to achieve their goals and ideals. He says that in the past, many people had very good ideas but did not want to become embroiled in politics, and young people on the island are one of the key groups that his party wants to support and encourage.

Yeh Ta-hua, secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, notes that his organization began promoting the idea of lowering the voting age in elections nine years ago. He adds that because young people have not had the right to vote in the past, very few representatives are concerned about issues relevant to youth. He says that eventually younger citizens will have the right to vote, and his organization wants potential young voters to known where current blue and green politicians stand. The outside world should be aware, he says, that "young people are already ready to exercise their right to vote."

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