Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Interior minister tries to stop another KMT rally

DEFIANT The KMT said if the Taipei government won't grant permission for a rally on the eve of the presidential inauguration, it could always hold it elsewhere

By Ko Shu-ling and Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday vowed to hold another massive demonstration on the eve of the presidential inauguration, despite pleas by the newly sworn-in Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) that the Taipei City Government not approve it.

"We would accept it if our application for the demonstration on the eve of the inauguration were to be turned down by the city, but we don't rule out the possibility of filing another application somewhere else," KMT spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元) told a press conference at the party's headquarters yesterday afternoon.

The pan-blue camp on Sunday announced that it would soon file an application for another mass demonstration at Ketagalan Boulevard. Its previous demonstration, on Saturday, ended in violence.

The alliance also pledged to hold more protests if the application for the inauguration-eve demonstration was turned down by the police.

Tsai said that the KMT's stance on the matter was clear: the party is determined to stage another protest, no matter where.

While critics expect Saturday's violent clashes with police to have a negative impact on the pan-blue camp's image, Tsai said that it was the price the opposition alliance had to pay.

"As a potent opposition party, we have to show our resolve to pursue the truth, sometimes via dramatic means," Tsai said.

But Su expressed concern that a demonstration on the eve of the presidential inauguration could also turn violent.

"With the violent instances on April 10, it is easy to predict what will happen at similar rallies held by the pan-blues. Besides, if all the things said at these rallies are rhetorical, are all these rallies really necessary?" Su said.

According to Su, the cost of the pan-blue camp's rallies was too high to justify having another one.

"Each rally has a high social cost, such as participants, members of the police force and reporters getting hurt. As a political party leader, how can one wish to see those involved going through this again?" Su said.

Nevertheless, Su congratulated Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for handling Saturday's rally well.

In reaction to Su's request, Ma said that the decision whether to approve the pan-blue rally on May 19 was in the hands of the Taipei Police Bureau's Chungcheng First Precinct, and he would not interfere in their decision-making process.

Since Su was sworn in on April 2, he has been particularly concerned with the issue of police jurisdiction between the central government and the city government during pan-blue rallies.

Immediately after Su's swearing-in ceremony, he received a visit from Ma, who wanted to make sure the central government would allow the city government to have full control of Saturday's rally.

Su said that he would give his full support to Ma and that he had faith in him to manage the rally responsibly. Su allowed the mayor to take control of crowd management on Saturday, but also monitored the situation himself at the National Police Administration throughout the course of the event.

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