The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday began the 100-hour countdown to its “Fury” (火大) mass rally on Sunday against President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, while the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) pledged its support to the protest and called for people to participate.
Speaking at a press conference, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) reiterated the party’s three demands to the government: a Cabinet reshuffle, a rejection of the controversial Next Media Group (壹傳媒集團) deal and a national affairs conference, saying that “only a mass protest can awaken the paralyzed Ma administration.”
Ma has pledged to reform the pension and bonus systems, but the reforms have only been half accomplished, Su said. The chairman said the government had slashed bonuses for government officials and employees of state-owned enterprises, as well as cut the year-end bonuses for retired civil servants, but the cuts were only valid for one year. He added that the government had only partially supported the movement against media monopolization.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said the public has no choice but to take to the streets because they have suffered far too long and not seen any hope.
“If the people’s willpower was strong enough, the protest will not be the end, but the beginning of a stronger opposition in the future, which may including a movement to recall Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers,” Hsieh said.
The DPP is expecting a crowd of more than 100,000 for the protest, which is to begin at Taipei’s Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall on Sunday afternoon and assemble in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard at about 5pm before culminating in an evening rally.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said mobilization efforts for the rally have been so successful that party staff in central and southern Taiwan are having problems finding enough buses to transport supporters to Taipei.
“The weather is our biggest concern. According to meteorological forecasts, it could rain on Sunday and the temperature could be as low as 13oC,” Lin said.
Also at the press conference, TSU Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉) said his party has launched a petition to recall Ma and is mulling launching similar petitions to recall the KMT legislators.
Separately, the TSU said that if Ma does not reshuffle the Cabinet, reject the Next Media deal and suspend the 18 percent preferential interest rates for civil servants, it would boycott the budget for the central government in the legislature.