Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 1 News List

DPP, KMT rally for UN referendums

EYE-CATCHER Staffers from Frank Hsieh's campaign office dressed up as characteristic Taiwanese items, with one person clad as a bowl of braised pork rice

By Flora Wangand Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS , IN KAOHSIUNG AND TAICHUNG

Later last night, Chen called out to the crowd at the rally's evening party, urging supporters to join the DPP's signature drive for its proposed referendum on joining the UN.

"The movement to seek entry to the UN has just started tonight," he said.

Hsieh, meanwhile, challenged his KMT counterpart Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) patriotism.

"Protecting Taiwan is a basic obligation of the nation's leader ... Loving Taiwan means loving the nation," Hsieh said. "I would like to ask Ma one question: Why don't you give [the name] `Taiwan' a chance? Did Taiwan do anything wrong?"

Hsieh then led the rally in chanting "Taiwan No. 1, UN for Taiwan" in English and "We want to govern our own nation; UN for Taiwan" in Hoklo, or Taiwanese.

It took China 21 years to become a UN member, Chen said, adding that he hoped it would take Taiwan less than that.

The DPP estimated that 500,000 people attended the rally.

The Kaohsiung police department said that it had not attempted to estimate the number of demonstrators.

Meanwhile, supporters of the KMT's referendum plan in Taichung waved the national flag and wore blue-and-white flip-flops as they took their appeal to the streets, voicing support for the party's referendum bid and protesting the DPP government for what they argue are dissatisfactory measures to protect their livelihoods.

Ma and his running mate Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), wearing polo shirts, blue jeans and flip-flops, led the crowd as it marched in the streets.

"The KMT's rally aimed at fighting for the people's livelihoods. If we can't improve the people's lives first, the issue of the UN referendum is redundant," Ma said in front of the 823 Park before the rally started at 4pm.

With the party's local branches mobilizing people to join the rally, about 1,000 tour buses blocked the city's traffic and supporters from around the country followed Ma, Siew and KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) toward the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, where a party was held starting at 5pm.

In addition to 10 floats created by the party with different themes to highlight civic problems, such as citizens struggling with excessive credit card debts and the nation's suicide rate, the rally also featured dragon dances, giant poker cards with images ridiculing the president, and KMT youth corps members dressed as college graduates and farmers to call attention to problems these groups face.

"The nation's title is the ROC and I support the KMT in not [wanting] to change the national title in an application for UN membership," Taichung resident Chang Ming-yi (張明義), a public servant, told the Taipei Times.

Putting their 14-month-old boy on the father's shoulder, a Taichung resident surnamed Chang and her husband called on the DPP to reflect on its poor policies and urged the government to pay more attention to social problems.

"I closed my betel nut stand today to join the rally. We don't care about the UN referendum. What we want is a better life," said Chang, who declined to give her full name.

Dressed in traditional Amis clothing, Wang Chun-mei (王春梅) and dozens of her friends echoed Chang's demand for higher living standards.

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