Sun, Aug 27, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma pledges `no tolerance' policy for protest violence

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A supporter of President Chen Shui-bian holds a cutout of former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh, during a pro-Chen rally yesterday in Taipei. DPP lawmakers staged two separate rallies in Taipei to support Chen and oppose Shih, although the rallies were later joined together.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING,AP

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged protesters at two ongoing political rallies to remain calm, while promising to prevent any acts of violence in his capacity as Taipei mayor.

"The purpose of all demonstrations is the expression of different opinions, and should not be achieved through violence," he said yesterday when attending a municipal event.

Stressing that Taipei's police department was "fully prepared" to maintain order at the demonstrations, Ma promised police would quash "any non-peaceful acts."

While he declined to confirm whether he would make an appearance at next month's sit-in protest organized by former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), the KMT's attempts to oust Chen are moving ahead.

Ma is scheduled to give a report in Taichung on the party's "Chen resign" efforts in the middle of next month. The report will review the 1,500 signature drives the party has launched around the country as part of its "Safeguarding Taiwan with no corruption" campaign since its Chen recall motion failed in the legislature in late June.

The KMT says the signature campaign will be completed before Sept. 19, when the legislature reopens after its summer recess.

KMT spokesman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) said the party will keep its distance from the sit-in launched by Shih to prevent his protest from being labeled as a political conflict between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

"But we are encouraging party members to join the sit-in as individuals," he said yesterday at the KMT's headquarters.

Ma and many KMT legislators have donated NT$100 to Shih's sit-in fund.

In related news, media reports said yesterday that Taipei police authorities have refused permission for Shih's sit-in to be held around the clock. The reports said that the Taipei Police Office's Chungcheng Division has only given permission for the Sept. 12-15 sit-in to be staged between the hours of 9am and 10pm, after taking into account traffic requirements and social order.

Asked about the reports, Ho De-fen (賀德芬), spokeswoman for Shih's camp, told the Central News Agency that the campaign organizer has not yet been informed of the reasons why permission for a "24-hour" sit-in from Sept. 11 to Sept. 23 in front of the Presidential Office was denied. She said the organizer would appeal the decision.

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