The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it has decided to delay its 19th party congress, which was to begin on Sunday, due to civic groups’ plans to hold a rally against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on the same day outside the congress’ venue.
In an impromptu press conference, KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said that the venue for the meeting, the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, is a popular tourist destination, so the event had been canceled to avoid any possible confrontations involving demonstrators that could hurt passersby.
“The KMT is the ruling party, and as such has a responsibility to protect the public and defend people’s rights, which is why we decided to delay the congress,” Tseng said at the KMT headquarters.
The KMT had said last week that it would not change the date of the congress because of the anti-Ma demonstrations.
The party had been set to approve Ma’s re-election as KMT chairman at the congress, which was meant to serve as an occasion to strengthen party unity ahead of the seven-in-one local elections next year.
Tseng said that after discussing the various rallies and protests planned for Sunday with the party, the Taipei City Police Department had suggested that the congress be held at another location since it would be a challenge to maintain security at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.
Several civil groups joined forces with the National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories to plan a demonstration outside the memorial on Sunday against the Ma administration.
Another anti-Ma protest planned for the same day and also organized by civil groups is to see demonstrators march from the intersection of Renai and Anhe roads, before converging at a rally on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building.
“The KMT absolutely respects all legal rallies, but we are also worried about possible accidents… The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is open to the public on Sunday and the safety of nearby businesses and residents is our main concern,” Tseng said.
The party is considering holding the congress at Chungshan Hall on Yangmingshan on Oct. 26, since the venue is far from downtown Taipei, which should make it easier to keep protesters at a distance.
However, the new date has yet to be confirmed as many KMT officials are scheduled to fly to China to attend a forum between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party.
The party’s annual summit has been the subject of increased public focus amid the ongoing political battle between Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), whose invitation to the congress was rescinded after the KMT revoked his party membership over alleged improper lobbying.
Responding to the cancelation, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that avoiding the protests by rescheduling would not solve any problems.
“The congress is supposed to be the KMT’s business. However, protests were organized for people to voice their opinions on Ma’s poor governance. As the ruling party, the KMT should respond to the public’s complaints,” Su said.
Su also endorsed the DPP’s boycott of a report that was to be delivered by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) to the Legislative Yuan and said that the DPP’s act would not suspend the legislature’s operation.
“However, Jiang should adhere to the constitutional principle of separation of powers,” he added.