Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Parties hold separate celebrations

ONE HOLIDAY, TWO PARTIES While the government holds the official celebrations for the country's National Day, the rival pan-blue alliance will hold its own events

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Visitors unacquainted with Taiwan's political scene might think that this country has its own version of "One country, two systems," as leaders of the ruling and opposition camps get set to stage their own separate events on Friday to celebrate the 92nd birthday of the Republic of China.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will celebrate the National Day -- also known as Double Ten Day because it is celebrated on Oct. 10 -- with traditional events in Taipei that start with a flag-raising ceremony in the early morning and climax with a dinner banquet for foreign guests.

Meanwhile, the pan-blue alliance of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) will host their own large-scale celebration in Chiayi.

Since the KMT lost power to the DPP in 2000 after ruling over Taiwan for more than 50 years, neither KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) nor his PFP counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) have taken part in national events that were once considered theirs by birth right -- including the presidential inauguration and the customary National Day celebrations held in front of the Presidential Office.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新), scores of foreign guests from 26 countries will attend this year's dinner banquet. The customary banquet will be held in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall's exhibition hall.

"President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia and Malawi President Bakili Muluzi will both attend this year's National Day celebration," said Chien, adding that an estimated 7,000 guests will attend the banquet.

Delegations made up of members from the British parliament and Portugal, as well as representatives from Costa Rica, Paraguay and Honduras, are among the foreign visitors attending this year's national occasion.

Guest will be treated to various types local Taiwanese cuisine including Hakka and Aboriginal dishes. The entertainment will feature an array of performances from traditional Gambian and Malawi dancers, as well as performances of Taiwan's string music and Aboriginal dances.

But while invited guests rub elbows with government officials and foreign dignitaries, Lien and Soong will be working the crowd at celebration events in Chiayi hosted by the KMT-PFP alliance.

Lien is heading the pan-blue alliance's joint ticket in the upcoming presidential election with Soong as his running mate.

According to KMT spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元), a parade of 2,004 bicycles will be held in the morning before the alliance concludes its National Day celebration at night with a large-scale party at the Chiayi Stadium.

Tsai said that Lien and Soong will both ride on tandem bicycles, along with other party officials parading through the streets in Chiayi.

"An array of entertainment, including performances by KMT and PFP legislators, will be staged in a bid to show forth the alliance's lively image as it demonstrates to the public its determination to restore hope and bring happiness back to Taiwan's people," Tsai said.

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