Thu, Oct 12, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Premier Su Tseng-chang condemns Taipei Mayor Ma

By Mo Yan-chih, Jimmy Chuang and Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Taipei City Council candidates Chen Chien-ming, left, Chien Yu-yen, right, and TSU Legislator Liao Pen-yen, center, shout pro-police slogans yesterday during a press conference to encourage the police. They also criticized Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou for not enforcing the law. The trio used the ``thundersticks'' that are popular with baseball fans as they cheered the police.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday condemned Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for failing to fulfill his promise to enforce the law and allowing unlawful demonstrations to take place in the city on Tuesday.

The protests, launched by the anti-Chen campaign on Tuesday afternoon abruptly after the mock "siege" of the Presidential Office in the morning, occupied Zhongxiao W Road and blocked traffic until 5am yesterday morning, as thousands of protesters sat or lied on the road.

"[Tuesday's] protests were illegal because they were not authorized. Since they were illegal, Ma, as the mayor, was supposed to take action, but he did not," Su said in his opening address to the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Su said he was disappointed when he learned that the unlawful protesters had agreed to clear only half of the lanes they had occupied on Zhongxiao W Road, adding that Ma should have requested assistance from the Cabinet to help maintain order in the city.

Su said he had asked the Ministry of the Interior to clear up the mess, at which time the National Police Agency (NPA) and the Taipei City Police Department had agreed to urge the crowd to move off after 4am yesterday.

Referring to the common practice whereby mayors of the country's municipal cities are invited by the Cabinet to participate in the weekly Cabinet meeting, Su said he had hoped Ma would attend more frequently so that they could discuss mechanisms for dealing with incidents like the one on Tuesday. However, Ma never showed up.

"There have been 35 Cabinet meetings since I took office in January. [Ma] has only showed up twice," Su said. "I understand that he is a busy man now that he is the chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT]. But it is Taipei citizens' hope that he would do more as a Taipei mayor."

Dismissing criticisms that the Taipei City Government had neglected its duty by allowing an illegal protest to continue into yesterday morning, Ma yesterday defended himself and said President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was to blame for recent disturbances.

"Even though the Taipei City Government has considerable power, we do not have the ability to handle the people's anger at President Chen," Ma said during a press conference at Taipei City Hall.

Facing criticism from Su and other pan-green figures over the city government's indulgence of the illegal protest, Ma complained that it was the city government's "bad luck" that it had to handle disturbances caused by Chen.

Ma called on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to recognize the cause of the demonstrations and solve the issue.

"Whose family is so corrupt that millions of people protest against them on the streets? Is it helpful to criticize me every day?" he asked.

Arguing that the police department had handled the situation properly in accordance with the law, Ma insisted that it was unnecessary to disperse the crowd.

"The police were facing citizens, not enemies ... When the protesters outnumber the police, the police should first monitor the situation, rather than immediately use force to disperse the crowd," he said.

According to Ma, anti-Chen campaign organizers had promised the city government that the crowd would return to the Taipei Railway Station before 12am. However, the organizers were unable to persuade all of the protesters to leave the road, Ma said.

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