Mobilizing protests not ‘normal’ part of democracy: premier

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 - Page 1

In a statement alluding to a series of upcoming rallies organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to protest the performance of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday said that mobilizing people to take to the streets is not a phenomenon characteristic of a democracy.

Chen made the remark yesterday at a Cabinet meeting, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) told a press conference.

At the meeting, the premier instructed the National Police Agency, which oversees the operation of police precincts in counties and cities, to ensure that the demonstrations adhere to the law and do not disrupt the public order or the flow of traffic where they are held.

People have the right to peaceful assembly and to demonstrate, and the government will protect those rights as long as the activities are within the scope of the law. However, the government also needs to safeguard public order and safety, Chen said.

The DPP earlier this month began hosting rallies in various counties and cities that are to culminate in a protest on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office on Jan. 13 to urge Ma to respond to its demands: that he reshuffle the Cabinet, improve the economy, reject the Next Media Group (壹傳媒集團) deal and hold a national affairs conference.

The party hopes to attract more than 100,000 people from across the country to join the rally and applied for permission to stage the protest on Ketagalan Boulevard from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15.

Chen said that the government was receptive to criticism from all sectors of society, but hopes that dialogue can take place within existing channels because mobilizing people to take to the streets is not a “normal” phenomenon of a functioning democracy.

The economic concerns raised by the DPP have been thoroughly addressed by the government via the measures it has implemented to improve the nation’s finances, Chen said, adding that policies come to fruition gradually.

Chen urged Cabinet officials to explain the policies adopted by their respective agencies to better communicate to the public the efforts the government is making toward reviving the economy.