Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Pro-Chen crowds gather in Kaohsiung after shooting


After hearing that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) had been shot in Tainan, many supporters in Kaohsiung who had intended to attend a campaign rally that was to be held in that city yesterday went instead to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) campaign headquarters and watched television coverage of the incident.

Supporters clustered around the headquarters condemned the violence and said they felt angry when they heard about the shooting.

"Once I heard the news I raced [to the campaign headquarters] to find out about President Chen's condition," a Kaohsiung resident surnamed Lin said.

"I feel so sorry that violence has interfered with the election. We should denounce violence and protect our democracy," Lin said.

"Our support for Chen will only be consolidated," Lin said.

When TV stations reported that Chen was not seriously hurt and was being treated in a hospital, the audience clapped, waved their campaign flags and cheered, saying "A-bian (阿扁), go, go" and "Referendum, go, go."

Supporters concerned about Chen and Lu repeatedly telephoned the DPP's campaign headquarters to inquire into their condition, and many supporters sent flowers to be passed on to the pair.

As of press time, many supporters were still gathered at the DPP's headquarters and appeared unwilling to leave.

Other supporters gathered at the Kaohsiung Municipal Cultural Center, which was to have been the location of a massive campaign rally last night, to pray for Chen and Lu. Many of the supporters brought flashlights and sang songs to express their concern about the pair's condition.

At 8pm last night, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) went to the cultural center and gave a speech to DPP supporters, urging them to remain calm and rational. He succeeded in persuading the crowd to go home.

"I know you are all very much concerned about President Chen's condition, as am I," Hsieh said.

"But I hope everyone can keep a cool head waiting for everything to become clear. Do not forget to cast your scared ballot tomorrow," he said.

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