Tue, Nov 15, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pan-greens attack Ma over flag debacle

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, center, attends a morning flag raising ceremony at a veterans' village in Pingtung County yesterday as part of the KMT's campaign for the county commissioner's election.

PHOTO: CNA

Pan-green legislators yesterday accused Taipei Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of lying and requested an apology for the city government's ban on flying the national flag at recent international events.

"Ma owes Taipei citizens and the people of Taiwan an immediate apology for mishandling the matter," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said.

"He should stop banning spectators from bringing their own flags to national or international events," Lai added.

He was referring to the Asian Short Track Speed Skating championship, which was held on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 at the new Taipei Arena. While there was a Chinese national flag flying at the venue, Taiwan's national flag was nowhere in sight.

Ma later explained that it was because the event had been privately organized and that the city government had nothing to do with it except for leasing the venue.

Ma said that all international games held in Taipei must follow the rules set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC came to an agreement in 1981 that the nation's sports teams would use the name "Chinese Taipei," as well as the "Chinese Taipei Olympic flag" during international events -- instead of the national flag and anthem -- in return for being allowed to participate in international sporting events.

Producing copies of what she called official documents issued by the city government, DPP Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠), who also serves as a DPP caucus whip at the Taipei City Council, dismissed Ma's explanation as a "lie."

According to Yen, the Asian Short Track Speed Skating championship had been co-organized by the city government's Department of Sports, which subsidized the event with NT$4.1 million.

Yen also cited two other events that had been co-organized by the city government but at which the national flag had also been banned.

One of the events was the Asian Judo Championships 2005, which were held on Saturday and Sunday at the Taipei Arena and jointly organized by the city's Department of Sports. The department contributed NT$3.5 million to the NT$11 million event.

The other was the International Auto Gymkhana organized by the Chinese Taipei Motor Sports Association, to which the city's Department of Education contributed NT$100,000 and the Department of Sports another NT$100,000.

Throwing his weight behind the DPP, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip Mark Ho (何敏豪) yesterday questioned Ma's suitability for running in the next presidential election.

"How do they expect voters to elect such a weak-kneed wimp as president?" he asked.

"We strongly condemn Ma and wonder why it is so hard for him to safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty," Ho said.

He added that he is curious to know why the national flag was nowhere to be found at the three events, while China's national flag was flown at the venues.

Although the national flag must be flown in honor of National Day from Oct. 7 to Oct. 28, TSU Legislator Tseng Tsahn-deng (曾燦燈) said that he would like to know why the flags were taken down on Oct. 28, the same day when China's top tourism official, Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉), arrived here on a 10-day visit.

Tseng proposed that those who have never criticized China should be banned from running for the presidency.

TSU Legislator David Huang (黃適卓) called on pan-blue and pan-green candidates running in the local elections to endorse his signature drive demanding that the national flag be flown at all public events.

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