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Week of Fury is far from the best DPP can do for Taiwan

Tens of thousands gathered in front of the Presidential Building yesterday in a demonstration billed as the climax of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) monthlong “Fury” campaign.

The campaign aims to express anger over what protesters see as the government's policy failures, including the power price hikes, lack of civil servant pension reform and Taiwan's reliance on nuclear power.

President Ma Ying-jeou said he would make no public appearance or comment yesterday other than to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of former President Chiang Ching-kuo. As of press time, Ma seemed to be keeping to his word.

People have good reasons to be angry. Many of the government's decisions last year were ill-advised and badly timed. The power price hikes, while reasonable in principle, were poorly planned and executed. The fact that the president failed to mention his plan to increase prices on the 2012 election campaign trail also undermines the democratic prerogative of the policy.

People have the right to express their dissatisfaction. It is their democratic right. In a well-functioning democracy, opposition parties exist to highlight the government's shortcomings. In this way, they make room for improvement, bring to the fore minority groups and shine a light on issues that might otherwise be overlooked.

The Fury protests, however, represent both the strength of Taiwanese democracy and its lack of maturity. While Taiwan should be proud of its freedom of speech and its diversity in opinions, freedom of expression is only part of democracy. Without the effort to move toward better policies, the complaints are just complaints.

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