President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday complained that some people do not sing the national anthem "out loud" and said it was a "serious matter," in comments that raised eyebrows among pro-independence supporters.
"I notice that many people here do not sing the national anthem, and those who do, fail to sing it out loud. Why? This is a serious matter," he said. "When I was in Paraguay, I sang our national anthem as many as six times. The national anthem signifies the country. I noticed that their band members and even their journalists sung their national anthem aloud."
Chen made the remarks yesterday morning at the Shinchuang Athletic Education Hall while attending the opening ceremony of the Presidential Cup ball competitions held for central government civil servants.
Chen said he was afraid the upgrading of the nation's competitiveness might be hindered if people could not reach a consensus on the issue.
"If government officials take this kind of attitude toward the national anthem, no wonder the general public forgets how to sing the national anthem," he said.
Chen not only sang the national anthem but also bowed to the national flag and effigy of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), the "founding father" of the Republic of China (ROC) at yesterday's event.
Some pro-independence activists do not support Sun's designation as the nation's father, but say he is worthy of respect.
As the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has long campaigned to change the national anthem and national flag, Chen's complaint yesterday raised eyebrows and received a mixed response.
DPP Spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (
"The national flag and national anthem represent the country and should not become a pawn for ideological confrontation," he said. "We think it is a good thing that people sing the national anthem because it helps consolidate public consensus."
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
KMT Spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (
"However, we'd very much like to see the president respect the ROC Constitution and constantly remind himself that he is the president of the Republic of China."
People First Party (PFP) Spokesman Hsieh Kung-ping (
"Although it is kind of surprising to learn of President Chen's remark, it is not a bad thing that he is willing to sing the national anthem and requests that government officials do so because it is something they should be doing in the first place."
Ng Chiau-tong (
While a country needs a national anthem, Ng said it was a mistake to use a KMT song for that purpose.
The anthem declares the Three Principles of the People to be the guidelines the KMT adheres to and the foundation of the nation.
The song was used as a temporary national anthem in the late 1920s and early 1930s when the Ministry of Education held two competitions to choose lyrics for a national anthem. Sun's composition was adopted as the ROC's national anthem in 1937 when none of the entries reviewed by the education ministry were deemed appropriate. The piece was chosen as the world's best national anthem at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.