Tue, Oct 03, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Lee Yi-yang says the police force is at breaking point

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The campaign demanding President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) resignation, which has lasted more than three weeks, has created unbearable strain on the police force and harmed the public interest, Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said yesterday following the death of a senior police officer on Sunday.

Police Captain Liu Tien-hsia (劉天下), chief of the Criminal Investigation Department of Yunlin County's Huwei (虎尾) branch, died of a stroke while on duty during an anti-Chen demonstration.

"Since the anti-Chen campaign began, police officers have been unable to take any time off. We feel terrible about what happened to Officer Liu. He couldn't sleep at night because he had a toothache, but he couldn't take a break either," Lee said.

Lee made the remarks while briefing lawmakers about the impact of Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) anti-Chen campaign on the police force.

"We call on Shih Ming-teh not to make his campaign an endless one. Otherwise, in the long run, it will have serious consequences for social stability," Lee said.

Lee said that deploying police officers to maintain order at anti-Chen protests had influenced the police force's ability to combat crime.

"Some 63,000 of the police force's 67,700 police officers have been used to maintain order since the anti-Chen campaign started. If there were no such protests, we could have prevented about 500 more crimes from taking place," Lee said.

Citing the limited number of police officers in Taipei City, Lee urged Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not to permit large-scale anti-Chen demonstrations.

"About half of the policemen used to maintain order during anti-Chen protests in Taipei were sent from other cities or counties," Lee said.

Meanwhile, eight Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators announced yesterday that members of the DPP caucus will each donate a day's pay to Liu's family.

DPP Legislator Lee Ming-Hsien (李明憲) said at a press conference announcing the donation that large numbers of police officers were being kept busy by Shih's nationwide tour.

"Your requests have been heard. Please end the tour so that the police officers can take a break," he said, addressing Shih directly.

Lee called on Shih to respect the judicial system and leave the investigation of alleged corruption scandals involving the president and his family to Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁), and the recall bid to the legislature.

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