Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan no stranger to political violence

ELECTORAL GAIN The nation has an unenviable tradition of political terror, but this is the first time that it may impact on the result of a presidential poll

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TAICHUNG

The shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) may benefit them in the election, a political observer said yesterday.

"The incident will definitely have an impact on tomorrow's election because it would win some sympathy from undecided voters," said Wang Yeh-lih (王業立), chairman of Tunghai University's department of political science.

Although dramatic events have happened during election campaigns over the years, Wang said that the impact this time would be significant because of its brutality.

Yesterday's shooting was not the first time pro-unification supporters have apparently attacked political figures or commentators who opposed their views.

Last November, New York-based political commentator Cao Chang-ching (曹長青) was assaulted by members of the pro-unification Patriot Association (愛國同心會).

Unhappy with Cao's pro-independence remarks during an international conference, four members of the association beat and insulted Cao in the lobby of the Grand Hotel where the conference was being held.

In March last year, Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), a political commentator and editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, was attacked while walking home with his wife. The assailant was believed to have been angry with Chin's liberal stance on cross-strait affairs and Taiwanese independence.

In May 2000, retired serviceman Shih Li-hsing (史力行) poured red ink onto former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) who, he said, had raised tensions between ethnic groups in Taiwan and betrayed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during his 12 years as head of the party.

Chin and Lee chose not to press charges against their attackers.

Wang said he was reluctant to say that pro-unification supporters were more violent because it was inappropriate to blame a specific camp as a whole for election violence.

"The prohibition of violence is absolute in a democratic country, and it's not conducive to social stability and harmony to lay the blame on any political camp," he said.

Refusing to speculate on the impact of the shooting on the election, Liao Yung-lai (廖永來), director of the Cabinet's Central Coordination Office, condemned violence.

"I wish voters would exercise more rationality and less passion when it comes to elections," Liao said.

Yang Ming-yu (楊明瑜), spokesman for the KMT's campaign headquarters in central Taiwan, said it was unfair to insinuate that a certain political party was responsible for previous cases of election violence.

Yang also said that KMT officials had been brutally attacked by pro-independence advocates during KMT rule, including the late former vice president and Taiwan provincial governor, Hsieh Tung-min (謝東閔) and late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

Shieh suffered serious injuries to both hands when a parcel bomb sent to his office blew up on Oct. 10, 1966. The bomb was sent by Wang Sing-nan (王幸男), who is now a DPP legislator, to highlight the cause of Taiwan independence.

Chiang escaped an assassination attempt unscathed in New York in 1970. The attempt to kill Chiang was staged by Peter Huang (黃文雄), now an advisor to the president and former Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會) president.

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