TSU, KMT draw thousands to rallies
Cooler temperatures did not keep away supporters of the two parties, which held large rallies within blocks of one another yesterday
By Jewel Huang and Melody Chen / STAFF REPORTERS
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday held simultaneous large-scale campaign parades in Taipei, with no major clashes between supporters of the two rival camps.
\nBoth parties claimed to have attracted more than 100,000 supporters each to the events.
\nThe TSU event called for a new constitution for the yet-to-be-rectified country, while the KMT outlined its campaign as a battle between two groups of people -- one trying to defend the Republic of China (ROC) and the other determined to terminate it.
\n"Taiwan's current name and Constitution bind Taiwan and prevent Taiwan from becoming a normal country," former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said.
\nOnly by solving this "fast knot" does Taiwan has a bright future in building a nation, he said.
\nLee also urged voters to support the TSU and help it outshine its rivals in this Saturday's legislative elections, stressing that the TSU is an indispensable political party for Taiwan to build its own country and will provide steadfast and reliable oversight of the government.
\nLee made the statements in a massive campaign rally held on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office yesterday evening.
\n"Although the TSU only obtained 13 legislative seats in the previous election, its steadfast stance in guarding Taiwan proves the TSU is the only opposition power that truly cares about Taiwan's future," Lee said.
\n"The TSU is not a decoration of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The TSU is an opposition party with stances and viewpoints," Lee said. "Although the TSU supports President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), it will also oversee the government and try its best to carry out the people's wishes."
\n"The TSU is the most important power in the legislature and is the agent of the interests of the Taiwanese people," he said.
\nMeanwhile, Lee also reiterated that the ROC does not exist and that Taiwan should stop using the ROC's Constitution and instead form a new one.
\nThis demonstrates that Taiwan-centered consciousness has reached a new high from the name-change rally held last September, the 228 Hand-in-Handy Rally this February, to Chen's re-election victory, and to today's rally, Lee said.
\nParticipants gave Lee a standing ovation when he entered the rally, crying out "I love you!" and waving thousands of campaign flags and placards.
\nLee's daughter, Annie Lee (李安妮), criticized the pan-blue camp -- the Chinese Nationalist party (KMT), the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party -- as political parties that disguise themselves behind a mask of protecting Taiwan by overseeing the DPP government.
\n"In fact, they oppose Taiwan. They exist for opposing [Taiwan] and are for China, which is not worthy of the people's support," she said.
\nSenior Presidential Adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) and World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI) Chairman Ng Chiau-tong (黃昭堂) also made speeches at the rally. Several DPP candidates also showed up at the rally to canvass participants for votes.
\nHosts Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) and Chen Ying-tsan (陳英燦), TSU Kaohsiung City councilors, rallied the crowd raising the atmosphere to a pitch, repeatedly asking "what is our country's name?" and "which country do you belong to?"
\nThe audience responded loudly and enthusiastically with "Taiwan."
\nAt the end of the rally, the TSU hosts unveiled five new national flags to the participants. Taiwan's national flag should be chosen by referendum, they said.
\nPan-blue Camp Marches
\nAlthough the pan-blue camp also held a massive march and campaign rally around the Legislative Yuan, which is near the presidential office, no major conflicts were reported between the groups.
\nBraving chilling winds, tens of thousands of pan-blue supporters also took to the streets to join what the opposition parities called the "Unite, Protect the Nation and Save Taiwan" march, designed to boost chances of the parties' legislative candidates.
\nConverging at the square in front of the Taipei City Hall at noon, the marchers started walking toward the legislature at 1:30pm. KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) all joined the march.
\nWith the legislative election less than a week away, Lien -- despite suggestions by his security team not to march along the route -- decided to join the crowd "in order to boost their morale."
\n"We have more than 100,000 people joining the event. The atmosphere is grand. Our legislature is the last fortress of Taiwan's democracy. We can never allow it to fall," Lien said in a speech at the legislature as the march concluded.
\nWith the pro-independence TSU rally only a few blocks away from the legislature calling for the rectification of the country's name to Taiwan, pan-blue march organizers said the event was virtually a battle between two groups of people -- one defending the ROC and the other determined to terminate it.
\nLien blasted Chen and the DPP administration as unjust and incompetent, alleging they were dividing Taiwanese society by manipulating various issues.
\n"The green camp is the biggest source of chaos in our country. They have mixed up party and government affairs and failed to run a just judicial system. They have cruelly torn apart our society and have been unable to revive the country's economic development," Lien said.
\nThe pan-blue camp wanted to highlight seven issues through the march, KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said.
\nThe DPP has "distorted history, tried to write a new constitution to push for independence, squandered the government's money, wantonly purchased weapons, raised commodity prices, worsened social security and sacrificed farmers' interests," Chang said.
\n"We are opposed to all of these and have taken to the streets to express our discontent. The DPP government has brought our people great pain ? I hope voters will help the pan-blue camp retain its majority on election day," Chang said.
\nTaipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) also gave speeches at the legislature, urging voters to support pan-blue candidates so that they may "supervise the government's budgets and law-making process" for the people.
\nMa accused the DPP of manipulating this year's presidential election by launching a referendum on the same day of the election. Blaming the DPP for using "illegal and irrational" approaches to win elections, Ma said pan-blue supporters should not learn from the pan-green camp.
\nCriticizing the government's recent revision of history textbooks, Ma said even though the old history textbooks did not contain enough Taiwanese history, it is unnecessary to cross out everything about China from the books.
\n"There is no need to cut Taiwanese history from Chinese history. Some parts of history would look really ridiculous if they insisted on doing so," Ma said.
A group of pan-blue alliance supporters shout ''defend the Republic of China and save Taiwan'' in front of a huge national emblem placed on the ground at a campaign rally in Taipei yesterday.
PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
Supporters of the Taiwan Solidarity Union yesterday enthusiastically wave newly designed ''national flags'' during a massive parade in Taipei, while shouting ''Taiwan's current name and constitution bind Taiwan and prevent Taiwan from becoming a normal country.''
PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES
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