Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Flash mob protest draws a questionable reaction

By Huang Chung-jung and Tang Chia-ling  /  Staff reporters

Ko I-chen smiles during a press conference in Taipei on March 14 for the Green Ray Theater’s production of The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

Photo: Wang Wen-lin, Taipei Times

Renowned theater director Ko I-chen (柯一正) has reportedly been placed under investigation by the Tax Bureau and accused by the police of having violated the Public Safety Act (公共危險罪), after leading an anti-nuclear flash mob in front of the Presidential Office last month.

The director initiated the “I’m a Man! I’m Anti-Nuclear!” event on Facebook, which drew 60 activists for a quick protest in front of the Presidential Office on May 28. Ko and the others lay down on the Ketagelan Boulevard and formed the Chinese character man (人) for 30 seconds, then shouted: “I’m a man, I’m Anti-nuclear!” before dispersing.

Ko's son, actor Lawrence Ko (柯宇綸), said on Facebook yesterday that his father’s company was now under investigation by the Tax Bureau and that he has been told to report to the police next week for allegedly violating the Public Safety Act.

“This is the Taiwanese government, what a shady national apparatus,” Lawrence Ko said.

“What about letting US beef into the country, restarting the Second Nuclear Power Plant and taking over the Meiliwan area? Aren’t those violations of public safety?” he added, referring to the plan to ease the ban on US beef imports with ractopamine residue, the controversy over the nuclear plant after the discovery that some bolts in the first reactor were broken and the controversial development by the Meiliwan Resort Hotel, which is still under construction despite a court ruling ordering a halt to the work.

Ko I-chen said he would not ignore the police summons and would tell them that what he did was “for your children as well. The events will not cease and everyone will only be more determined.”

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) asked whether police had nothing better to do or if they were trying to get on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) good side.

Saying Ko I-chen had led three similar protests and yet the police only singled out the one staged in front of the Presidential Office, Chien said she didn’t know if it was a case of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) trying to pander to Ma.

The event was over in 30 seconds, there was no traffic at the time and the event did not obstruct traffic, Chien said, adding that the flash mob fell under the constitutionally protected freedom of speech.

“Are the prosecutors trying to use the case to scare other people in the arts to stop them from caring about public issues?” she said.

Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣), secretary-general of the Green Citizen Action Alliance, said she was surprised Ko I-chen had been called in over the event. Tsuei said her association and other organizations had held an anti-nuclear protest in front of the Taipei Municipal First Girls’ Senior High School on May 29, but they were not called in for questioning.

There were many policemen around on that day, she said, adding that police had privately said Ko I-chen's protest the day before made the Presidential Office lose face, so more police had been deployed.

Additional reporting by Chao Ching-yu Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer

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