Mon, Mar 20, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Pan-blues rally against government

DISSATISFIED The KMT and PFP's faithful responded to criticism from their leadership over the March 19, 2004 shooting probes, the economy and cross-strait relations

By Jewel Huang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH CNA

Participants at yesterday's rally sponsored by the People First Party and the Anti-Arms Purchasing Alliance gather on Ketagalan Boulevard to voice their objections to the arms-procurement package and the termination of the National Unification Council and guidelines.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Thousands of opposition party supporters rallied in Taipei yesterday to voice their dissatisfaction with the president, with the investigation into his election-eve shooting two years ago and the scrapping of the National Unification Council and guidelines.

The pan-blue supporters also voiced unhappiness with the government's arms purchase plans.

The pan-blue camp rallied its supporters on Ketagelan Boulevard for the second anniversary of the March 19, 2004, assassination attempt, which it claimed helped President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) win re-election.

Police declined to estimate the crowd size, but organizers put the turnout at 40,000. The British news agency Reuters put the crowd at 10,000, but gave no explanation of how it had reached that figure.

Speaking at the rally, with the theme of "Voicing your indignation at A-Bian [President Chen Shui-bian]," top members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) demanded investigations into the shootings be reopened.

Chen and Lu were both shot while leading a motorcade in Tainan City on the afternoon of March 19, 2004.

While the official investigation into the matter was closed on Aug. 18 last year, with a report saying that Chen Yi-hsiung (陳義雄), found dead 10 days after the shooting, was entirely responsible for the attack, the pan-blue camp has continued to claim the entire incident was staged.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the "mysterious" shooting had blemished Taiwan's democracy, laws and police. He said it was legitimate for the people of Taiwan to demand that a special commission on the shooting be reestablished.

"This case has not been solved as the police had no direct evidence to prove who the shooter was. People have a legitimate reason to demand a re-investigation," the Taipei mayor said.

Other pan-blue leaders, including PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), supported the suggestion.

"The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government is incompetent to administer the country. In the past few years, we have seen economic growth decline, government scandals continue to occur and the suicide rate increase. Two bullets put the country into a miserable situation," Lien said.

The pan-blue leaders stressed that a second investigation committee should be quickly formed, in accordance with the "March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute" (三一九槍擊事件真相調查特別委員會條例).

In the first speech of the day, Ma said the truth of the March 19 shooting was shadowy, the international media had compared it to a cheap crime fiction and Taiwan's democracy, justice and police had all been tarnished by it.

"According to a poll, about 67 percent of those surveyed think the case should be reinvestigated," Ma said. "I think it is totally legitimate for people to make such a request."

He said that the investigation report did not get to the crux of the matter and that even Lu has said she's not convinced of the results.

"I hope newly appointed Public Prosecutor General Hsieh Wen-ting (謝文定) is bold enough to reinvestigate the case and the Legislative Yuan could reestablish the truth investigation special commission to reveal the truth as soon as possible," Ma said.

"Only finding out the truth can save Taiwan's democracy from the ignominy caused by two bullets," he said.

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