Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Ma defends fine for event littering

FLAGS LEFT BEHIND If KMT protesters were fined for leaving a mess at the site, the Presidential Office is equally liable, Taipei's mayor said


Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) defended the city government's decision to fine the Presidential Office for littering, saying no one is exempt from the city's rules forbidding littering.

The mayor from the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) made the comment in response to criticism from lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that the NT$1,200 (US$35.82) fine was "politically motivated" with the purpose of embarrassing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

The dispute arose from Thursday's presidential inauguration in the square in front of the Presidential Office. Chen's followers, who are mainly supporters of Taiwan independence, were asked to attend the inauguration carrying Republic of China flags to signify their reaching out to followers of the opposition alliance following weeks of wrangling between the two sides over the March 20 presidential election result.

After the inauguration, the square was littered with the flags, prompting the city government to fine the Presidential Office, which organized the inauguration.

DPP lawmakers blamed Ma for trying to present a gesture of reconciliation from the DPP in a bad light.

Ma said the ticket was issued by the city's Environmental Protection Bureau according to the rules, adding that the KMT had been fined for the same reason when litter was found scattered after the many protest rallies it staged following the March 20 election.

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