Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Premier and vice premier take part in peace march

FLASH IN THE PAN Hsieh successfully attended the `Anti-Secession' protest rally yesterday, but was a little too late when he turned up for a `flash mob'

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A sleeping child wears a headband that reads ``ethnic solidarity'' and other slogans during yesterday's demonstration against China's ``Anti-Secession'' Law.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Vice Premier Wu Rong-i (吳榮義) both participated in yesterday's rally to protest China's "Anti-Secession" Law yesterday, although Wu was supposed to stay in his office while Hsieh joined the event.

Hsieh, however, began his activity at 11pm on Friday night, when he walked to the front door of National Taiwan University (NTU) to join a "flash mob."

According to the premier's schedule, he responded to the flash mob's invitation on the Internet to join the small-scale protest by NTU's front gate against the Anti-Secession Law.

Flash-mobbers gathered in front of NTU, raised their hands and yelled, "Freedom!" Then the people, mostly college students, disbanded.

Hsieh was five minutes late. When he arrived, the flash-mobbers were already gone. However, he was still welcomed and cheered by many of the passing students.

"I am always surrounded by guards and police officers, no matter where I go. But I did not want the sirens to disturb the students' activity, so I decided to approach them by walking. That is why I am late," Hsieh said. "But it is all right. I am glad that they did what they wanted to."

For yesterday's rally, Hsieh and his wife decided to start at the same location, and joined a group of blind people, dogs and students. They walked to Ketagelan Boulevard, in front of the Presidential Office.

Cabinet Spokesman Chou Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said that Hsieh chose to start from NTU because he enjoys being with the younger generation.

"He [the premier] was planning to begin from Da-an Forest Park (大安森林公園). However, to avoid being grouped with his fellow Cabinet members, he decided to start from NTU," Chou said.

During a weekly Cabinet members meeting last Wednesday, Hsieh encouraged his fellow officials to join the rally but he also said that Cabinet members' behavior must be isolated and the Cabinet will not form a team for the rally.

According to the initial plan, while Hsieh was at the rally, Wu was supposed to stay on duty at his office. But he did not.

"This is an important event. Taiwanese people must speak out and tell Chinese officials that they are against the Anti-Secession Law. And Chinese officials must hear what the Taiwanese people want to say if they really care about the land, as they claim they do," Wu said.

Wu began his march from Daan Park.

Asked why he was not in his office, Wu said that he wanted to step out and hear from the people directly, instead of sitting behind and watching it on TV. In addition, if something happened, his aides at the office would immediately notify him, so everything was still under control, he said.

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