Sun, Mar 14, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Pan-greens hold huge rally in Kaohsiung, blast Soong


The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday mobilized nearly 500,000 people from southern Taiwan to march in Kaohsiung's streets to campaign for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election bid, as well as the success of Taiwan's first national referendum.

"This is the last battle between native power and alien authority," former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said during last night's rally. "This will be the end for those conservative forces in Taiwan, who have irrationally attacked President Chen -- the son of Taiwan -- in their attempt to steal back political power."

Commenting on the pan-blue camp's rally yesterday for opposing Chen Shui-bian, Lee said that the Taiwanese people have had enough of the conservative forces echoing China with their threats.

"Their influence will be completely eliminated, because the waves of democracy are unstoppable and will spread in each generation," Lee said. "We should not be scared by the final flailings of the alien authority. We must unite and strengthen our resolution to sweep it away from Taiwan."

Lee's remarks and appeals earned excited applause from rally participants and brought the rally to a climax.

The DPP's heavyweights also made speeches to encourage supporters to safeguard their hard-won power, as embodied by Chen's administration, saying that a completely democratic Taiwan will be the ultimate hope for China.

"Only with the success of the referendum can the entire world realize what Taiwan's people really want," said Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷). "Only the success of Taiwan's referendum can be a beacon for the people of China toward a democratic future."

To taunt the pan-blue camp's vice presidential candidate, James Soong (宋楚瑜), for kneeling on the ground yesterday -- the third time he has done so since 2002's Taipei City Mayoral election -- Hsieh said that for the sake of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰) and Soong, voters should let the two retire, so that they do not have to cry or kneel again.

A man on his knees

1. People First Party Chairman James Soong's first kneeling was on Dec. 5, 2002, during the Taipei Mayoral election campaign. He knelt down at a campaign rally in Taipei's Ta-an Forest Park, asking voters to give Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou a second term.

2. Soong's second kneeling was about one year later, on Nov. 9 last year, when he visited Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Jung-wei. Soong knelt after talking with Chang about a water-resources budget slashed by the central government during a banquet with local politicians. He said he wanted to apologize to Chang and the Yunlin people for the budget cut.

3. Soong's third public kneeling came yesterday at the KMT's rally in Taichung. Soong knelt alongside his wife and kissed the ground in an effort to "show his love for Taiwan."

Source: Taipei times

"Unless Soong is willing to kneel to the Beijing authority and ask China to withdraw its ballistic missiles targeted at Taiwan, then we have no idea why a politician should have to kneel or cry so much," Hsieh said.

Countless supporters gathered in Kaohsiung beginning at noon yesterday and launched parades from four locations.

The contingent of marchers crowded streets and yelled slogans such as "Believe in the People and Believe in Taiwan" and "Vote for A-bian." They waved banners, flags and placards to express their support for Chen and the referendum. Even teams of motorcycles and cars joined the march, lending the rally a carnival-like atmosphere of chaos and excitement.

"Our 228 Hand-in-Hand rally was like a carnival to open our minds and invite everyone to guard Taiwan," Chen said. "But the pan blues at their 313 Rally just made fists and showed angry faces.

"2000 saw the historic peaceful transfer of power. Now we are going to see another historic event in realizing the referendum," Chen said.

"The 228 Hand-in-hand rally showed how Taiwanese love their country ... Taiwan's democracy can never be defeated by China's authoritarianism, Taiwan's referendum cannot be defeated by China's missiles," Chen said.

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