Sun, Aug 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP councilors again blast Ma over sit-in

PROTEST PERMIT Councilors rounded on the city's mayor over the approval of the 23-day protest against the president, saying that it would create traffic jams

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government's approval of an around-the-clock sit-in on Ketagelan Boulevard continued to upset Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilors yesterday, with some urging Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), whom they called a "coward," to ensure Taipei residents' quality of life during the 23-day protest.

"Ma Ying-jeou sacrificed Taipei residents' rights and quality of life to accompany a group that shares his political interests. It's a shame that we have such a cowardly mayor," DPP Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said yesterday during a press conference at the DPP headquarters.

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. The group is pressuring Chen to step down over alleged corruption.

First time

Although an open-ended 24-hour demonstration has never been allowed before, the Taipei City Public Works Department and Police Department granted the group permits.

Ma, who is also chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has hinted that the application was approved because the country's public assembly law does not set any time limit on protest activities.

Traffic concerns

As the boulevard will be occupied for almost a month, Hsu accused the city government of causing traffic congestion and demanded that Ma offer a way to keep traffic flowing during the protest period.

"Ketagelan Boulevard is a major road in Taipei, and occupying the road for a month will create serious traffic problems for all [city] residents," Hsu said.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) also urged the Taipei City Department of Transportation to solve the issue.

"The department should present a traffic plan and provide the residents with information, such as alternative bus routes, during the period," Lee said.

According to Hsu, at least 17 bus routes will be forced to change during the period.

This may also influence the quality of life of patients in nearby National Taiwan University Hospital, she added.

"Who will be responsible for Taipei residents' safety if any conflicts occur?" she said.

Ma replies

Facing the criticism, Ma yesterday repeated that the decision to approve the sit-in had followed legal procedure.

"The power to approve the protest resided with the public works bureau and the police department," he said yesterday after attending a municipal event at Dajia Riverside Park.

Lee said that Ma was "shifting responsibility," and asked him to form a response team to find solutions to any problems that may emerge during the protest.

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