Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Thousands return to the streets for anti-Chen rally

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Opposition supporters rally during a protest against President Chen Shui-bian yesterday in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei to increase pressure on Chen to resign.

PHOTO: WALLY SANTANA, AP

A week after the "anti-Chen Shui-bian" rally last Saturday, the People First Party (PFP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday again rallied thousands of supporters on Ketagelan Boulevard, urging the president to step down for his "corruption" and "impotence" as the country's leader.

The cancelation yesterday of a similar rally in Kaohsiung -- planned by the KMT -- due to the weather, brought together KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his PFP counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) again on the same stage after last week's rally, as the two increased pressure on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to resign over allegations of insider trading against his son-in-law and the first family's alleged involvement in corruption scandals.

"Corruption, abuse of power and impotence are the reasons Chen Shui-bian should step down immediately. It has nothing to do with political affiliation, ethnicity or political clashes," Soong said on the stage in front of the Presidential Office.

Soong also took aim at Chen's inspection tour yesterday of southern Taiwan, which has been inundated by floodwaters, saying the government should take care of the people every day, rather than providing emergency relief at the last moment.

Standing next to Soong, Ma added that the KMT would propose a recall motion in tomorrow's informal legislative meeting.

"Facing a corrupt president, the people have the right to take back the power they granted him when he was elected," Ma said.

In response to criticism from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the legitimacy of a recall motion, Ma said removing the president required no reason or evidence of criminal acts because it was a "political move."

"As long as people think that President Chen is not suitable for the job, they can recall him through a legal procedure," he said.

Waving flags and carrying signs, supporters shouted "A-Bian Step Down!" with Ma and Soong, showing their dissatisfaction with the government.

Ma denied the DPP's accusations that the pan-blue camp was doing nothing but creating social turmoil with its recall motion and continuous demonstrations, and promised that the party would prioritize the special flood-control budget bill in tomorrow's informal legislative meeting.

"The KMT cares about livelihood issues very much. The government's poor disaster-control efforts are the reason behind so much flood damage in Taiwan," he told the crowd.

In an effort to assist with the flood-control work, Ma, who is also Taipei mayor, said the Taipei City Government would send 40 staff members and four big pumps to Chiayi and Kaohsiung counties to deal with the flooding in the area.

While the KMT said that it had canceled its event in Kaohsiung due to the rain, Chinese-language media such as the TVBS and ETTV cable stations, among others, speculated in their coverage that the event was postponed due to safety concerns, as some pro-independence radio shows had threatened to take the chairman's life during the event.

Although KMT Spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) denied the speculation, Ma was surrounded by a large group of police yesterday as he walked to the stage yesterday.

He was almost hit by eggs thrown by protesters last Saturday rally, and police tightened security yesterday before he arrived.

A man who drove a truck containing boxes of eggs to the rally was forced to leave and the eggs were confiscated by the police.

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