18 March 2015
One way young activists have attempted to raise themselves above the partisan fray is by looking to the past for inspiration. According to Ian Rowen, a fellow at the non-profit Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Taiwan’s youth have lionized past political figures that have contributed to the public good without attaining elected office, including democracy activists like Cheng Nan-rong and Su Beng — the former self-immolated in protest of martial law. Su, now 97 years old, is a former Marxist revolutionary turn outspoken historian of Taiwanese identity, and the subject of a recently released documentary. Posters for the film have become near-ubiquitous on the walls and windows of some coffee shops and bookstores around Taiwan. “Ten years no one knew about these people, but now they’re everywhere,” said Rowen.