Sun, Oct 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen rallies the faithful in Kaohsiung

SHOW OF FORCE After taking a hammering from the media and in recent opinion polls, the president and DPP officials rallied the faithful in the far friendlier south

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN KAOHSIUNG

Thousands of supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party yesterday participate in a march dubbed ``Taiwan Stand Up'' as part of the party's 20th anniversary celebrations in Kaohsiung.

PHOTO: CNA

At a rally in Kaohsiung yesterday celebrating the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) 20th birthday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that the DPP could continue as the governing party after the 2008 presidential election as long as it had faith in itself.

Chen, listing the party's "birthday wishes" to a gathering of high-spirited DPP supporters in Kaohsiung last night, said the DPP would win the year-end Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections and that the party would win a majority in the legislative election next year.

"If we take a good, hard look at ourselves, correct our mistakes, uphold our integrity, do the right thing and move in the right direction then the DPP will have faith in itself and will be successful [in retaining office]," he said.

Government exists for the sake of the public, Chen said, adding that his administration would do its best to increase investment in local industry, develop job opportunities and bridge the gap between rich and poor.

Chen said the government would work to deliver a new constitution that "responds to the current situation," join the UN under the name "Taiwan" and hold a referendum calling for the recovery of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) stolen assets.

The DPP's most senior officials, including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) joined the event last night.

Referring to the government's achievements, Su said that many DPP supporters might not be satisfied with what the party has achieved over the past few years, and that the DPP would review its approach.

Leading the crowd in a thumbs-up gesture -- in response to the thumbs-down gesture of former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) campaign to topple Chen -- Yu said that the DPP could improve its performance, but that there had also been progress in democratic development.

Yu said the party would aim for Taiwan to become a "normal country" within 10 years.

Denying "pro-China media" charges that he deliberately stoked ethnic conflict, Yu said that he would not subscribe to, read or buy advertisements in the Chinese-language China Times as long as he was in office.

Yu also called on the party faithful to stand behind the president because "he stands for the nation and did not commit any crime."

Acting Kaohsiung City Mayor Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) told the rally that the party had fought for democracy and freedom. She said the party would not forget the core values upon which it was founded.

Earlier in the afternoon pro-DPP activists had marched through the city shouting"Long Live Taiwan!" and other slogans, with Lu and Su riding in a vehicle among them and beating drums.

Like many marchers, Lu was wearing green, the party's color.

About a dozen people carried a massive cloth banner with the slogan "Stand Up, Taiwan" written across it, while colored balloons floated overhead.

Yu gave a double thumbs-up as a sign of support for Chen, who didn't take part in the march but was scheduled to speak later at the rally.

The president's son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), was also spotted taking part in the march.

A 36-year-old man surnamed Jang said that he and his mother had traveled to Kaohsiung from Taichung the previous night to make up for an event he missed on Sept. 16 when the Taiwan Society staged a large rally in Taipei.

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