DPP thumbs nose at assembly permits

UNHAPPY MAYOR: After the DPP said it would not apply for a permit, Hau Lung-bin said the sit-in would be illegal, but authorities would handle it with a ‘soft approach’

By Rich Chang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Wed, May 13, 2009 - Page 1

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday the party would hold its 24-hour sit-in protest against the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) and a draft amendment to the act without applying to the Taipei City Government for permission.

“We oppose this ridiculous Assembly and Parade Act and oppose the government’s proposed amendment to the Assembly and Parade Act,” Tsai told reporters yesterday.

The protest is scheduled to start on Sunday in front of the Presidential Office after the party’s rally against the government’s pro-China policies.

A draft amendment of the act proposed by the Cabinet would allow police to restrict the public’s right to protest, Tsai said.

She also said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had been playing tricks, first to block the sit-in, then to make it seem that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) had helped the DPP.

The KMT arranged for “civic groups” to apply for rally permits on Ketagalan Boulevard on Monday to prevent the DPP’s 24-hour sit-in, she said. Later, Hau claimed he had negotiated with the groups on behalf of the DPP and convinced them to yield to the sit-in, she said.

Tsai said Hau’s behavior was “ridiculous and hypocritical,” and the DPP did not appreciate his supposed “help.”

The DPP has a permit for its Sunday-night rally on Ketagalan Boulevard, but could not secure a permit for the sit-in as the space had been booked for Monday.

Hau then called on the DPP to negotiate with the organization over use of the space. He was referring to the Taipei City branch of the KMT.

Yesterday he said the KMT had agreed to yield to the sit-in after being contacted by the city government over the matter.

Hau yesterday urged the DPP to complete the legal procedures for holding its sit-in and promised the permit would be granted.

“Ketagalan Boulevard is a major traffic artery and many residents have to use the road on Monday ... Applying for a road permit is [meant to] protect the rights of the majority,” Hau said.

Hau said the city government was concerned about the impact of the sit-in on traffic and would have trouble presenting a traffic control plan if the DPP did not apply for a road permit.

After news that the DPP would not apply for the permit, Hau said the sit-in would be illegal and the city government would handle the matter with a “soft approach.”

“I believe the DPP is a responsible party that will take the public’s rights and perspectives into consideration,” he said.