Afternoon showers failed to dampen the spirits of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) supporters, who gathered yesterday at Taipei's 228 Peace Memorial Park to voice their opposition to the campaign launched by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) aimed at ousting the president.
Yesterday's rally, called "Cou-rage, Peace, Safeguard Taiwan and Encourage A-bian [Chen's nickname]," was organized by political commentator Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖) and DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅).
"What terrifies us are not those `Chinese dogs,'" Wang Ben-hu said at the start of the rally. "What is really terrifying are DPP traitors like Shih, [former DPP publicity department director] Sisy Chen (陳文茜) and [former DPP chairman] Hsu hsin-liang (許信良)."
While authorities have yet to release official tallies on the number of participants at the rally, the organizer said more than 20,000 people took part in the demonstration yesterday.
Many of the protesters came from southern Taiwan, a traditional stronghold of the DPP.
Although the organizers hoped the rally could be carried out in a peaceful and rational manner, isolated minor incidents broke out when supporters of Shih's campaign appeared at the rally. But aside from heated arguments between the two camps, no major clashes nor scuffle took place.
Shih's former wife Chen Li-chu (
Chen Li-chu warned Shih's family that she would definitely retaliate if they make any slanderous comments about her again.
Referring to former DPP legislator Lin Cheng-chieh's (林正杰) attack against the editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly, Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), in a live TV talk show on Thursday night, Wang shih-cheng said "Lin has turned the favor he received [from the DPP] into revenge."
Chin later appeared at the event and condemned Lin's action.
"I think there's little difference between Lin's action and the way the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) used to deal with political dissidents," Chin said.
Chin then launched an on-the-spot donation for Chen Li-chu, saying that the event would help Shih take good care of his former wife.
DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun also showed up, but reiterated that the party would not mobilize people to oppose Shih's campaign.
Responding to calls within the DPP to stop criticizing Shih, Wang Shih-cheng defended his action.
"How can you not rise up and fight when the robbers [referring to supporters of the anti-Chen campaign] are already at your doorstep?" he said.
Wang earlier this week called Shih's campaign against the president as an irrational and illegitimate act, adding that Shih's motives are suspect.
Wang also said then the campaign would destroy social order and promote ethnic strife.
He said he needed to rise up then and defy Shih for these "intolerable acts."
Wang Ben-hu said they chose the 228 park as the venue for the rally because they wanted to tell dissidents who have passed away that the Taiwanese people were determined to defend their homeland.
Meanwhile, a crowd of more than 2,000 from southern Taiwan staged a protest outside Shih's office on Jinan Road next to the legislature, asking him to return the NT$2 million they donated to his three legislative bids.
The event was organized by DPP legislators Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) and Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶), as well as DPP city councilors from Tainan and Kaohsiung.