Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Don't miss historic moment, Shih says

`PEOPLE'S POWER' The man behind the campaign to oust President Chen said that the sit-in protest would herald a new phase in the history of the nation

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair, second right, and a group of Tainan City and County councilors from the Democratic Progressive Party kick red balls at a sit-in protest in support of President Chen Shui-bian in Tainan's Kuantien Township yesterday, symbolically kicking the organizers and participants of the campaign to unseat Chen.

PHOTO: CNA

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) yesterday urged the public not to miss the "historic moment" tomorrow when the sit-in protest to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) gets underway.

At the formal launch yesterday of the "Million Voices Against Corruption -- President Chen Must Go" protest, Shih said that the sit-in would be a non-stop peaceful demonstration without any "exit strategy" until Chen has stepped down.

The protest is scheduled to start tomorrow at Ketagalan Boulevard and along Renai and Hsinyi Roads.

"At three o'clock on Sept. 9, Taiwanese people will give voice to the country's anger and show the people's power," Shih told an international media conference held at the Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

"They will demand that a corrupted president step down, and this will create a new phase in our history," he said.

Stressing that the demonstration would continue "as long as necessary," Shih called on top officials from all political parties, including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), to start preparing for the "post-Chen" era.

The press conference began with a seven-minute video which showed Chen's responses to the corruption scandals involving the first lady and his in-laws.

"His contradictory remarks and empty promises have sparked people's anger and make him the best spokesman for our campaign," campaign spokesman Emile Sheng (盛治仁) told the press conference.

In response to the pan-green camp's criticism of the demonstration and calls to wait for the judicial system to decide Chen's future, Sheng said that Taiwanese had grave doubts about the independence of the nation's judicial system, and that the public would win the battle against a corrupted president.

Asked about the sit-in's possible impact on foreign relations, Shih said that, as residents of a sovereign nation, Taiwanese had the right to fight against a corrupt leader.

"I believe that US citizens would not welcome a corrupt government either," he said.

While giving the assurance that the sit-in would be "peaceful and non-violent," Shih said that he nonetheless expected some violence during the protest, and that such incidents were most likely to be "created by those in power."

At the end of the press conference, the demonstration's organizers gave each reporter a box of moon cakes.

The organizers also held a closed-door press conference with foreign media yesterday, sparking outrage among Taiwanese reporters, who demanded an explanation for their exclusion.

Sheng said later that a separate press conference was held as the foreign media's questions and concerns tended to be different from those of the local media.

In response to reports that, instead of staying at the Presidential Office or a nearby residence, Chen might choose to go on a tour of the countryside during the sit-in, Shih said that no matter where Chen went, he would "hear the heartbeats and inner voices of the people."

Shih also urged the DPP to support the demonstration.

The protest will formally begin at 3pm on Saturday, said Jerry Fan (范可欽), one of the spokesmen of the campaign.

People who have already registered online will be asked to sit in the "quiet" area along Ketagalan Boulevard, while others can gather in the "moving" area along Renai and Hsinyi roads. Protesters will be asked to sit down and remain silent at about 6pm, and there will be a "special guest" to deliver a music performance at 9pm.

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