To mark 228 Peace Memorial Day yesterday, the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance called for reconciliation among the nation's ethnic groups and for supporters of rival political camps to turn their backs on mistrust.
Independent of the government-backed "Hand-in-Hand" human chain, the events staged by the pan-blue alliance yesterday under the title "Heart-to-Heart Rally" included a torch relay, a blood donation drive and rallies in Kaohsiung and Taipei.
The torch relay reached its conclusion at Kaohsiung's Chungcheng Stadium after a two-week journey that took blue-camp supporters through 319 cities, townships and villages.
KMT Chairman and presidential candidate Lien Chan (
The poem, entitled I am in your blood and you are in my blood, referred to both the alliance's blood donation drive and a message of "ethnic harmony."
"February 28 is a day full of sad sentiment," Lien said after finishing the poem.
The Feb. 28 Incident refers to the suppression of civilians by the KMT administration in 1947, which led to the deaths or persecution of tens of thousands of people.
"We choose to express ethnic reconciliation through the act of blood donation," Lien said.
"Reconciliation does not mean asking all to have the same opinion, but to harbor respect and treat one another with respect despite having a different opinion," he said.
"Regardless of whether one is Hoklo, Hakka, Mainlander or Aboriginal, blood keeps life going," Lien added.
"Blood does not distinguish between political stance, ethnicity, province of residence, gender or age," he said.
Lien then called for a national blood donation day to be held every Feb. 28, starting from next year.
PFP Chairman and vice presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) was unable to participate in the torch relay. Soong was busy participating in a televised debate with Democratic Progressive Party vice presidential candidate Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).
But other big guns joined Lien on stage, including Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
As the pan-green camp's nationwide "Hand-in-Hand" event reached its crescendo, the KMT-PFP alliance's rally offered a more modest spectacle to mark the day, with participants hugging one another when the clock reached 2:28pm.
Back in Taipei last night to take part in the pan-blue camp's "Heart-to-Heart Rally" event at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, Lien again made an appeal for ethnic harmony to the assembled crowd.