Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 8 News List


Club crackdown an affront

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Taipei's beleaguered police force carried out a three-hour crackdown on a popular local dance club that sent the activist reforms of the Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other government officials into a tailspin.

A contingent of armed police officers raided a primarily gay club called Texound at around 2:30am, shutting down the music and forcing nearly 1,000 people to kneel on the ground, their hands in the air, for 30 minutes. One police officer told the kneeling crowd that any drugs found near them would be considered theirs -- this despite international precedents that would invalidate any such finding in a court of law.

Though I am supportive of police efforts to crack down on drug use in Taipei, I believe their totalitarian methods invalidate the law they are meant to protect. The police officers in question -- and the mayor whom they represented -- owe nearly 1,000 people an apology. Police officers were uncooperative with people there. They refused to give any timeline on how long the police would raid. They would not allow people to use the bathroom.

And, probably most troubling, they refused to allow people who had left their keys or other personal things in club lockers to retrieve them. Taipei should reimburse the club-goers that took cabs -- and pay for the hours that people were forced to wait outside in chilly, drizzly weather.

I'm particularly troubled by the police force's raid of a gay club just hours after a landmark rally that may make Taiwan one of the world's most gay-friendly -- at least in principle -- countries. Police raids that target gay clubs when other equally-notorious clubs are left alone should send a warning signal that the activist reforms pushed by Taiwanese politicians are dead in the water.

This is not my first run-in with police in Taiwan, only the worst. This was the third time I have been in a gay establishment that was raided by the police. I encourage Ma to issue a blanket apology to the people who paid to have a good night and were instead manhandled by police. The city should reconsider reimbursing people for cutting short a night that was meant to be celebratory but ended up being spent kneeling on a dirty floor, hands on their knees.

Eric Lee


Ma will stew in his own juice

Last Wednesday, the DPP-led Cabinet approved a draft referendum law, which predominantly aims to expand the scope of direct democracy. Such an establishment can be translated as a triumph in democracy by a nation.

However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman, and Taipei mayor, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), had a different point of view. His objection to the draft was based on the provision that the government could initiate a referendum in the same way people plead for mass petitions. And Ma feared it would cause a constitutional upheaval and endanger the check-and-balance in the Constitution, because the law would leave the executive the option to empower people to make a choice of their own, rather than have the lawmakers decide.

Ma was also quoted as saying, "What's not written in the Constitution is not permissible."

Despite holding a doctorate in law, Ma somehow failed to remember that the very nature of the laws is adapting the rules to the status quo, rather than living by the same code year in and year out. The best way to interpret the laws, particularly the Constitution, should be the exact opposite of what Ma said. What is not restricted in the Constitution should be possibly permissible.

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