Mon, Nov 18, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Rallies vie for hearts and minds

APPEALS TO PATRIOTISM The TSU and New Party promoted competing notions of national identity yesterday in two separate demonstrations in Taipei and Kaohsiung

By Tsai Ting-I and Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Demonstrators take to the streets of Kaohsiung yesterday to demand a name change for Taiwan.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

With Taiwan struggling to forge a national identity, two parties at opposite ends of the political spectrum made patriotic appeals yesterday in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Shouting pro-Taiwan slogans, some 10,000 demonstrators marched through Kaohsiung as part of the campaign to change the nation's name to Taiwan, while another couple of thousand of protesters took to the streets of downtown Taipei to defend the country's official designation, Republic of China.

The three-hour rally in Kaohsiung came on the heels of comments by Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Shih-meng's (陳師孟) remark that the ROC flag does not equal the ROC.

The Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, which is comprised of more than 70 pro-Taiwan groups, organized the event

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), TSU Chairman Huang Chu-wen (黃主文), DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) and the DPP commissioners for Kaohsiung County, Tainan County and Pingtong County attended the pro-Taiwan rally.

"Unable to rectify the official name is causing Taiwan great pain. I hope that every Taiwanese can come together and fight for Taiwan," Lu said in a speech at the rally.

"The campaign for rectifying Taiwan's official name should be promoted step by step and should avoid sparking any disputes among different ethnic groups," Lu told an estimated 10,000 pro-independence supporters.

The Kaohsiung-based Taiwan South Society, one of the organizers of the protest, said the event was not designed to seek changes to the Constitution or the national flag.

Rather, the group seeks to have Taiwanese history instead of Chinese history taught in the nation's schools, to replace Chinese literature with Taiwanese literature and to remove "China" from the names of government-owned enterprises.

Cheng Cheng-yu (鄭正煜), secretary-general of Taiwan South Society, explained that while amending the Constitution is difficult at this time, the group will push for "Taiwanizing" the education system.

Meanwhile, TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明), who also attended yesterday's march, told reporters that the his party's 13 legislators would push for the passage of the referendum law this legislative session.

The referendum proposal states that Taiwanese are entitled to hold referendums on the nation's name, flag and anthem.

Meanwhile, some 2,000 protesters demonstrated in Taipei at an event organized by the New Party. Demonstrators carried the ROC flag and urged Chen Shih-meng to resign for his earlier comments.

"Of course the flag equals to the ROC. Chen Shih-meng should resign from his post for his erroneous remark," said New Party Chairman Yuk Mu-ming (郁慕明).

As the mayoral and city council elections are approaching, the New Party yesterday also urged the blue camp to cooperate.

"With the blue camp working together, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) can be delivered to the city government and there will be chances for the blue camp to take over the Presidential Office in 2004," Yuk said.

The New Party, facing the possibility of being shut out at the polls, has a tradition of promoting "national identity" at election time.

It won only one legislative seat, in Kinmen, and picked up only 0.44 percent of the vote in last year's legislative elections. All seven lawmakers from the party, including Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大), Levi Ying (營志宏) and Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), failed in their re-election bids.

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