Mon, Feb 23, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Hand-in-Hand Rally paves way for the rest

By Peter Wang 王獻極

On Sept. 6 last year, more than 150,000 people converged in front of the Presidential Office under the blazing sun to take part in a demonstration calling for a change to Taiwan's official name. This massive march was organized by the Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, under the leadership of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

The alliance planned to hold another 500,000-people demonstration on Mother's Day this year. But when I, along with the alliance's co-conveners, reported on the campaign to Lee, he reacted by saying that the March 20 presidential election will be the most important battle in the fight to safeguard local political power and that only then can we smoothly push forward a campaign to change Taiwan's official name.

Moreover, to help passionate supporters in southern Taiwan avoid the hardship of long journeys and to avoid wasting transportation resources, a provisional organization was established on Oct. 31 last year and the proposal by its secretary general Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) was passed to hold a human chain rally.

I was instructed to inspect the planned event route. I and other staffers started off from Hoping Street on Hoping Island from the northern tip of Taiwan and travelled all the way down to the south along the north-south provincial highways. When we came to Huilung and Kueishan in Taoyuan and Hsinchu's Hukou Township, especially the sparsely populated areas in Miaoli, our blood ran cold and our palms started to sweat. We really thought that mobilizing a million people to form a hand-in-hand human chain along the roads in these remote areas is an impossible task.

When we came to Pingtung City and realized that the terminal point is on Chienkuo Road, we shouted unanimously in joy -- Hoping to Chienkuo (literally "peace" to "nation-building" in Chinese). Such a coincidence must be God's will!

Traditionally, in mass activities, the number of participants -- a few more or a few less -- is not the decisive factor in a rally's success. But in the million-people hand-in-hand campaign, no gap is allowed along the 500km-long route. Publicity and mobilization are required. Organizational work must be closely integrated. In particular, the grouping method used by combat troops is required to ensure the rally's success.

Luckily, Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智), from President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) home town, gave 100 percent support by taking the lead in mobilizing 80,000 people in a successful rehearsal on Feb. 1. This has boosted morale and phone calls come through in endless streams from people who want to register with local campaign offices. People are determined to join in this activity to write a new page in history.

On the afternoon of Feb. 28, all the ethnic groups shall unite forces and the Taiwanese people shall stand up and line up along the north-south provincial highways for the hand-in-hand rally. Let our motherland Taiwan stand up -- this is the first goal. Then we Taiwanese people must express our demand for peace and rejection of missiles, practicing direct people power on March 20 to extend all-out support for the peace referendum. Let people be their own masters -- this is the second goal.

At the same time, we shall safeguard the native political power and support Chen's re-election bid. This is the third goal.

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