The Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs yesterday voiced deep regret that a cross-strait concert was canceled on Sunday after protests descended into violence, while Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said there was no negligence on the part of the city government.
The “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival” at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) athletic field, promoted by the Taipei and Shanghai municipal governments, and cosponsored by the Chinese reality television show Sing! China, was called off about two hours after its start after protests about the way the school was referred to by promoters, about damage done to the sports field and about students’ rights to use the athletic field.
The concert had been scheduled to run from 2pm to 10pm, but at 4pm organizers announced it was being halted.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Scattered incidents of violence were reported as the crowds began to disperse, with three students allegedly injured by a member of a pro-unification group.
In a news release issued yesterday morning, the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs said it was sorry that the event ended in shambles, and that as the event’s co-organizer, it had tried to assist in the negotiations on Sunday afternoon between the main event organizer and the university.
Ko said the city had signed a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation and exchange with Shanghai’s municipal government in 2010, and cross-strait cultural events had been held for three straight years.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
As for the violence, the man who allegedly attacked the students had been caught by police on Sunday evening and the case would be dealt with according to the law, he said.
The city government would ensure the organizer repairs any damage caused to the university’s facilities, he said.
“Cultural exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are intended to increase kindness toward each other, not to increase conflict. However, we will have to put more thought into how we can do it in the future,” he said.
“The Taipei City Government was a co-organizer of the event, but so far I see no negligence on our part. We did all that we could,” Ko added, in response to reporters’ question about whether the city government had failed to prevent “united front” tactics by the Chinese organizers.
Taipei Cultural Affairs Commissioner Chung Yung-feng (鍾永豐) said the department should have advised the main organizer about the spirit of university autonomy in Taiwan, so that it would not only negotiate with the university authorities, but also allow the school’s student association to participate in the decisionmaking process.
As for complaints by students and others that the concert posters had called National Taiwan University “Taipei City Taiwan University,” the department had asked the main organizer to correct the errors after it discovered on Aug. 25 that the words “Taipei City” had been removed from all posters, tickets and stage panels.
Amid complaints by students saying that police showed up too late after violence erupted on Sunday, Taipei Police Department Deputy Commissioner Lin Shun-chia (林順家) said there had been negligence on the part of a police officer who received reports of problems on the campus, so the officer has been issued a demerit.
The police department received information about the protest and contacted university authorities, but the university refused to let police officers be deployed on campus, citing the principle of university autonomy, Lin said.
The local police station had received several reports about violence, but there was confusion about the exact location of the incident, as some reported it to be on the campus, so it took more time for police to arrive to handle the case, he said.
“The head of the Daan Precinct’s Roosevelt Road Police Station had 20 police officers at the station that could have been deployed at the time, but he tried to confirm and understand the situation,” Lin said.
“After a discussion today, we decided to remove him from his supervisory post,” Lin said.
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