Wild Lily Student Movement

by Amy, Julie, Irene and Brenda from KGHS, Taiwan

The replica of the white lily. (
The replica of the white lily. (

After World War II, Taiwan was placed under the administration of the Republic of China. Before long the Chinese Civil War broke out in Mainland China and Kuomingtang (KMT), or Chinese Nationalist Party, retreated to Taiwan. Soon declaring the martial law, KMT governed Taiwan as the only political party. Owing to the enforcement of the martial law, freedom of speech, assembly and the press, which was guaranteed by the Constitution, was deprived. Though in the 1980s most of the restrictions were removed, the political advancements still did not materialize.

Students in front of the C.K.S Memorial Hall. (
Students in front of the C.K.S Memorial Hall. (

On March 13th, 1990, the National Assembly, which was not reelected for 40 years, passed a resolution that extended their term of office even longer. Three days later on March 16th, nine students of National Taiwan University sat in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to protest, pulling out a white banner which read, "How can we endure the great oppression inflicted on us by another seven hundred emperors any longer?" (Ironically pointing out the fact that the commissioners had never been reelected.) This heralded the beginning of the Wild Lily Student Movement.

Students put forward issues of “dissolving the National Assembly”, “convening a conference on nation issues”, and “democratic reform”. The Wild Lily Movement has been the greatest student movement ever since the KMT government retreated to Taiwan. During the six-day protest, the number of students increased from the initial nine to the culmination of five thousand demonstrators. There were even professors changing their classroom to the square where the protest was held.

Why did the students choose white Formosan lilies as their logo? First of all, the Formosan lily is a peculiar species in Taiwan, which symbolizes independence. Secondly, it can be found all the way from the shore to the mountains, and can bloom regardless of the dire circumstances. And it blooms in the spring, which was the time the movement was held. Also, its pure white symbolizes the purity of students, meanwhile representing the loftiness of the aboriginal culture. Every single trait above matches what the students thought of their protesting act. They even made a giant replica of the flower and had it stand on the center of the square to highlight the determination of their faith.

Command Center on the stairs. (
Command Center on the stairs. (

President Deng Hui Li listened to the requests of the college students several days later. He soon began working on a series of political reforms, including the national consensus of the cease and annulment of the "Period of Mobilization for the Suppression of Communist Rebellion", which was the only remaining part of the martial law, and the return of the Constitution, as well as established constitutional amendments. Through the legislative system then, Former-president Li successfully implemented all the reforms, resulting in the well-designed, complete system in which the Taiwanese people are living well protected by law today.

The Wild Lily Student Movement is widely regarded as the turning point of democratic transition of Taiwan. Nowadays, everyone is receiving the rightful and legal protection. Instead of taking it for granted or abusing it, we should think about those who fought hard for this country in order to attain a better society and make people no longer need to worry about the impact of the chaotic political turmoil induced by partisans.

Different generations have different aspirations. The Wild Lily Student Movement brought in “democracy”; in recent years, Wild Berry Student Movement, on the other hand, wishes to strive for more “freedom”. No matter which student movement it is, we all need to retain the ability to think independently and to judge in an unbiased way in order to adopt an approach of securing "reform from within the system." Bloodshed is no longer the tendency, yet a rational and peaceful protest is the kind of change that the society needs now.

Page created on 7/1/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/1/2018 12:38:01 AM

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Related Links

Wild Lily Student Movement - on Wikipedia.