Fri, Oct 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen may not attend Double Ten party

UNCERTAINTY The National Day celebrations will go ahead despite the NSB chief advising their cancelation, while it is unclear if the president will attend outdoor events

By Ko Shu-ling, and Jimmy Chuang

Shih Hsiu-chuan

Staff Reporters

While it was announced that this year's Double Ten National Day celebrations will go ahead as usual, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has not yet decided whether he will attend the celebrations, as the national security agencies have advised him not to attend outdoor festivities, including the delivery of the National Day address, the Presidential Office said yesterday.

"The President will respect the decision of the National Day preparatory committee," Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said.

"He will also take into consideration the suggestions of the National Security Bureau [NSB]," Lee said in response to the advice given by NSB Director Hsueh Shih-min (薛石民).

NSB Deputy Director Yang Kuo-chiang (楊國強) told the legislature's Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday that Hsueh visited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is in charge of organizing the celebrations, at around 8am yesterday and recommended that this year's National Day celebrations be canceled.

If the committee decides to hold the celebrations as scheduled, Yang said, Hsueh told Wang that their suggestion would be that Chen does not attend any activities held outside the Presidential office.

Yang said Hsueh and Wang reached a consensus on the issue.

The National Day celebrations have only been canceled once before -- in 1999 following the devastating Sept. 21 earthquake.

Yang said the bureau did not rule out the chances of unrest occurring on National Day after carefully assessing the available intelligence.

The activities of supporters of the anti-Chen campaign initiated by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), however, were not the sole factor behind the decision, Yang said.

The lack of sufficient police officers, the president's safety, possible social unrest and the nation's image were among them, Yang said.

Shih's supporters have threatened more action on National Day, while pan-blue legislators invited to the ceremony held at the square in front of the Presidential Office have said that they would wear red shirts to the event to show their support for the anti-Chen campaign.

DPP Legislator Chen Chin-de (陳金德) said if pan-blue lawmakers disliked National Day so much then it should be canceled altogether.

DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) threw his support behind the bureau's suggestion, saying that it would be a humiliation to the country's image and President Chen's dignity if the Shih protesters"red army" staged a demonstration near the Presidential Office.

When Wang Shih-cheng asked Yang whether it was possible for China to send people to Taiwan to sabotage the National Day celebrations, Yang replied that they kept track of Chinese nationals working for the Chinese government.

The intelligence they had gathered so far did not indicate that China or the US were involved in the anti-Chen campaign, Yang said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) rejected the bureau's suggestion, accusing Hsueh of abusing his power and meddling in the legislature's affairs.

People First Party legislative caucus whip Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) criticized the bureau for categorizing supporters of the anti-Chen campaign as violent and irrational people and treating them as enemies.

Wang late yesterday confirmed press inquiries that Hsueh had suggested canceling the event, but he rejected the suggestion.

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