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Taiwan urged to sustain social movement momentum

2013/09/13 20:12:08

Generation 18 Founder David Burstein (left).

Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) The founder of Generation 18 -- a nonpartisan young voter engagement organization based in the United States -- said Friday that the Taiwanese should build on the success of recent civic movements to raise further awareness and engage more people for participation in public affairs.

David Burstein, 24, said the recent rallies in Taiwan, including the one that demanded the protection of human rights in the military after a soldier was allegedly abused to death during his service, had granted access to people wanting to participate in important social issues.

Known as the "White Shirt Movement," the rally, organized online by some 40 youth, drew hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to Taiwan's streets last month.

The experience of holding mass protests and uniting the public's discontent should be well preserved, so that the momentum continues and leads to greater action, stated Burstein, who is visiting Taiwan to exchange ideas with local youth at the invitation of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

Although not everyone can make a long-term commitment to speaking up on social issues, the key is to build capacity for stronger public engagement, noted Burstein, who will attend an AIT forum to share his ideas about civic engagement in the younger generation.

"As long as you have a group of people who are willing to go out there and continue to organize, that's what really matters," said the Millennial writer.

A wise use of social networks and digital media could also keep such a movement vibrant, he suggested, adding that the integration of an emotional appeal might help young activists deliver their messages more effectively.

On the other hand, the authorities should be ready to adapt to these new thoughts and be willing to change following the growing civic engagement from the youth, Burstein said.

"There has to be an opening of the mind, an understanding that young people are not the leaders of tomorrow. They are the leaders of today," Burstein said.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
ENDITEM/Shradhha