Sun, Jun 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Ma leads anti-Chen rally in Kaohsiung

RALLYING SUPPORTERS The KMT chairman took the recall campaign south, while the president's supporters held their own protest outside the venue

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) supporters cheer behind a photo of President Chen Shui-bian captioned ``Taiwan's Marcos'' and one of first lady Wu Shu-jen during a rally yesterday in Kaohsiung. The pan-blue camp yesterday launched a final weekend of protests to recall Chen, ahead of a legislative vote on Tuesday on a presidential recall.


Ignoring the summer heat of southern Taiwan, thousands of people yesterday took part in a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)- organized rally in Kaohsiung to demand the ouster of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), while outside, separated by barbed-wire blockades, more than 1,000 pan-green supporters showed up to voice their support for the embattled president.

The KMT's rally yesterday was the second of the party's three protests around the nation which aim to gather public support for the recall motion before the legislature votes on it on Tuesday.

Denouncing Chen for failing to improve the country's economy and cross-strait relations over the past six years, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) urged the public to join the opposition's efforts to oust Chen.

"The recall motion is not a political clash between the pan-blue and pan-green camp, and it is not an opposition scheme aimed at grabbing power. It's for the future of all the people," Ma said during the rally held at the National Science and Technology Museum.

Outside the rally, pan-green supporters shouting "Get lost, Ma Ying-jeou" burned KMT party flags. At one point, some even tried to occupy the satellite vans of media outlets they accused of being pro-China.

The protesters were stopped by the police.

Ma said the biggest issue for the president was that the people around him loved money, and had "abused their power after they got it."

"If my secretary and my wife became rich through graft, playing the stock market or gambling, would you still want me to be Taipei mayor?" asked Ma, who also serves as Taipei mayor.

Speaking in both Mandarin and Taiwanese, Ma asked the crowd "have our lives gotten better?"

"No," the crowd responded, waving flags and placards while cheering Ma's speech.

"Only by ousting President Chen will Taiwan have a future," Ma said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) also urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and people from the south to join the KMT's efforts to fight against a corrupt government.

Tight security

To ensure the KMT chairman's safety amid alleged assassination threats aired on pirate radio stations in the south, Kaohsiung police assigned more than 2,000 officers to secure the site of the rally, with about 100 police following Ma around to protect him.

In Taipei yesterday, the People First Party (PFP) gathered more than 80 cars to protest against Chen around CKS Memorial Hall, expressing their anger by honking their horns.

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) continued his sit-in in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

"President Chen should step down immediately because it's impossible that he can finish his term without further corruption ? If the DPP still has a conscience, it should join our plea and ask Chen to step down," Soong said.

Ma paid a brief visit to Soong before heading to Kaohsiung.

Expressing his determination to continue his sit-in, rather than attending the KMT rally, Soong urged the KMT chairman to play a more active role in fighting against a corrupt government.

"If Taiwan continues to sink into depravity, there will be no future for democracy, and the opposition can stop thinking about the 2008 presidential election," he said.

Taipei scuffles

In related developments, dozens of pro-independence activists demonstrating outside the KMT's headquarters in Taipei scuffled with the party's supporters before they were separated by police.

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