Sat, Jan 02, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Scarves cause New Year's Day clamor

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A scarf designed in a Republic of China national flag pattern proved highly popular at the New Year flag-raising ceremony yesterday, with all of them snatched up within minutes of their distribution amid scuffles and confrontations.

New Year flag-raising ceremony organizer, China Youth Career Development Association, had planned to give out 9,999 free scarves as souvenirs at the ceremony yesterday morning, but only had 5,000 because the manufacturer’s machines had broken down the previous day.

People who gathered in front of the Presidential Office to receive a free scarf surrounded the association’s staff and refused to let them leave after the organizer stopped handing out scarves because of the chaotic situation.

“We’ve been waiting here in the cold for more than three hours and we are not leaving without a scarf,” a member of the crowd told the staff.

The police later escorted the staff away from the crowd.

The organizer apologized later for causing such chaos and said the number of people who wanted a scarf was more than it had expected.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the organizer gave out 7,000 slips to members of the crowd and they could visit the association at a later date to claim their scarf.

The scarf will also be available in the Presidential Office’s gift shop in the near future, Wang said.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and top government officials wore the scarf and red hats as they participated in the New Year flag-raising ceremony yesterday. Led by a choir from Taipei Jingmei Girls High School, Ma sang the national anthem as he watched the flag slowly being raised.

Pan-blue heavyweights, including former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), however, did not attend the ceremony.

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