The Executive Yuan yesterday urged the Taipei City Government to cooperate with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) by controlling traffic at the start of the party's nationwide UN bid torch relay tomorrow.
"Taipei Mayor [Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌)] is obliged to take the initiative and assist with traffic control," Government Spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) told a press conference.
At the press conference, Lee Kao-hsiang (
"But we have also made some preparations ourselves. Holding the relay in the early morning, starting at 6:30am, will lessen its impact on traffic," Lee said.
Lee said that President Chen Shui-bian (
Lee said that a group of 17 athletes will complete the 1,200km torch relay across the country's 25 cities and counties in 11 days.
Some local governments controlled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have threatened to boycott the event at the suggestion of Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (
Sheih said that while local governments had been invited to participate, their failure to do so would not hinder the event.
"We have organized the event to demonstrate the will of the 23 million Taiwanese to join the UN, which has nothing to do with the [DPP's proposal for a] referendum on UN membership using the name `Taiwan,'" Shieh said.
He added that people who support the KMT's proposal for a "return" to the UN under the name "Republic of China (ROC)" are welcome to participate in the event.
Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (
Citing the Assembly and Parade Law (
In response, Taipei City Government Director of Information Yang Hsiao-tung (羊曉東) said the city government was responsible for controlling traffic to ensure the safety of pedestrians and vehicles.
Yang said the city government routinely communicated traffic information to residents via numerous channels ahead of large-scale road races, but had been unable to do so in this instance because the Sports Council had yet to apply for a permit or propose its traffic control plan.
The city government was in the dark about whether the event would force the alteration of bus routes or result in any road blocks, Yang said.
"The Sports Council only sent a letter asking for the city government's cooperation. However, issuing a letter is not the same as filing an application for a permit," Yang said.
I don't understand why the Sports Council first said the relay did not require a permit, but then later said the letter amounted to an application [for a permit]. I really don't understand what they are thinking," he said.
When asked to comment on Ma's previous bicycle tour around the nation, Yang said the city government could not comment on whether other district governments considered Ma's tour a sports event or a political one. He reiterated that any group or individual who wanted to hold an activity in the city should file an application.
KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said Ma's campaign had respected local governments' authority and had filed applications for permits when needed. Su urged the DPP to respect the "partnership" between the central and local governments.
Meanwhile, Deputy Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) called on the Taipei City Government not to apply a double standard to the torch relay.
Chen Chi-mai said the torch relay is a sports event and that politicians must not politicize the matter. He added that the public supported the government's plan to hold a referendum on seeking UN membership.
He said that Ma had not asked for permission from local governments for his round-the-island cycling tour, and that the Taipei City Government should be more cooperative when faced with events such as the torch relay. He said organizers had arranged for the president to lead the torch relay, but that other details were still being arranged. He said he did not think the first family had been invited to the launch ceremony.
Commenting on the row between the DPP and the KMT over the event, Chen Chi-mai said that any resolution hinged on the actions of the Taipei mayor. Hau, a KMT member, said the relay was illegal because organizers had not applied for permits. Hau also said his government would "handle the matter in accordance with the law." Chen Chi-mai urged the city government to respect the public's right to assemble and said that he believed Taipei residents did not want to see law enforcement officers making unnecessary arrests as to do so would see the country descend into martial law.
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