Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP slams Taipei government over protest permit

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator yesterday lashed out at the Taipei City Government for allowing an "indefinite, round-the-clock" sit-in to be staged in front of the Presidential Office to unseat President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

A group led by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) has filed an application with the city government for the right to stage a demonstration on the boulevard in front of the Presidential Office between Aug. 23 and Sept. 17 to pressure Chen to step down over alleged corruption.

Although an open-ended 24-hour demonstration has never been permitted before, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is also chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has hinted that this application was approved because the country's public assembly law does not set any time limit on protest activities.

DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) said that Ma created a special "Shih Ming-teh Clause" in the demonstration rules to allow Shih and his supporters to launch the round-the-clock sit-in.

Chaotic

He ridiculed Ma by asking him whether all people who apply to hold demonstrations or sits-in in Taipei would be allowed to conduct them indefinitely and round-the-clock from here on.

Wang said Ma should bear responsibility for whatever might occur during the sit-in.

DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶) criticized Ma for "letting Taiwan's capital become a chaotic place where there is no justice and people cannot tell right from wrong."

Ma yesterday denied that the city government had given Shih special treatment by relaxing restrictions on the normal protest deadline of 10pm, stressing that the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) does not stipulate any protest deadline.

"I haven't made any promises to anyone on the matter ? The approval of the Shih Ming-teh camp's sit-in was based on legal proc-edure," Ma said, adding that the power to approve the protest resided with the public works bureau and the police department.

"I have nothing to do with the department's decision [to grant the protest permit]," he said.

In response to the People First Party's (PFP) criticism that Ma has allowed Shih's sit-in to be staged round-the-clock, but two years ago ordered local police to disperse the anti-Chen protest led by former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋 楚瑜) in the wake of the 2004 presidential election, KMT Spokesman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) said that the police dispersed the crowd because of violent acts at the scene.

"What the police were trying to stop is violence, not the protest," he said.

Special treatment

As a symbolic gesture to protest Shih's "special treatment," Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) Taipei mayoral candidate Clara Chou (周玉蔻) yesterday applied to the city government for a round-the-clock protest permit.

Chou said her rally, which will be staged from Aug. 28 to Sept. 26 in front of the Taipei City Hall, is aimed at protest against the city government's ignorance of the plight of unemployed residents and other disadvantage groups.

The public works bureau said it will grant the permit if no other groups applied to stage a protest in the same area, but noted that final approval resides with the police department.

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