Sat, Mar 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Yu tells Ma to control supporters

REMAIN RATIONAL The premier warned the Taipei mayor that he would be held responsible for ensuring that today's protest was peaceful, and warned of extremism

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Voicing concern over the pan-blue camp's mass demonstration today, Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday called on people to remain rational, while cautioning organizers to keep control of the event.

Yu also met with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday afternoon over the matter, and Ma said he would do his job to keep order at the event.

"We would like to urge the demonstration's organizers not to let [today] become a nightmare for Taiwan's democracy," Yu said at a press conference yesterday, referring to the mass demonstration slated to be held today in front of the Presidential Office by the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance.

Entitled "sustain justice, salvage democracy and we want the truth" (拚公道, 救民主, 要真相), the demonstration could draw over half a million people. At the rally, the pan-blues will appeal for a recount and the assembly of a special task force to examine President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) gunshot wound.

A number of pan-blue legislators had warned that they would carry out a "big action" at the event today, going as far as "sacrificing their lives." Alliance Spokesman Pang Chien-kuo (龐建國) yesterday confirmed that there are pan-blue legislators who have already penned a final letter to their friends and relatives.

In view of the conflict which took place at the Central Election Commission (CEE) yesterday, where scores of demonstrators scuffled with police and hurled bricks at the office of the commission protesting against the official announcement of Chen as the president-elect, Yu said that he can't help but feel pessimistic about the pan-blue camp's planned demonstration today.

"I'd like to hereby call on KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to stop before it is too late," said Yu. "Please keep in mind that your actions will have a prominent effect on Taiwan's democracy, ethnic harmony and international image."

Yu also called on the general public to condemn violence and remain rational.

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that, according to some information, the mass demonstration to be held by the KMT-PFP alliance today could become complicated.

Pointing out some of the phrases used by pan-blue supporters, such as "besieging" and "taking over" the Presidential Office, Lin noted that some individuals might be interested in deliberately stirring up trouble at the event.

"In fact, there has already been some intelligence that said gangsters or other unspecified individuals will provoke conflict at eh event tomorrow," said Lin, adding that some pan-blue legislators have threatened to drive a bulldozer into the Presidential Office.

PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) had said that he plans to drive a bulldozer to the event, while another PFP Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) claimed that he would mobilize protesters to besiege the Presidential Office.

"The government is poised to take all necessary measures. Legislators of the opposition parties ought not to join in committing illegal acts," Lin said.

Noting that the Taipei City Government is the one which has permitted the large-scale gathering, Lin stressed that Ma shoulders the responsibility for making sure the event concludes peacefully.

"While the Cabinet will assist the Taipei City Government, in the meantime we hope that Ma will be well-prepared to make sure that everyone attending the rally will go home safely and soundly," said Lin.

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