Wed, Oct 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

National Day Protest: Envoys shrug off demonstrations

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's foreign diplomatic corps was predictably diplomatic when responding to questions about yesterday's protests and the disruption of the Double Ten National Day ceremony.

American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young said that he thought it was inappropriate to "cause such a fuss" during a national celebration, although he also noted that the right to protest was a democratic norm.

Young made the remarks last night at the national day banquet held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Taipei Guest House, when asked about the clamor made by opposition lawmakers earlier in the day during President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) speech.

"Although there was no violence, such behavior is not good," Young said in Mandarin.

"I think the police had the appropriate reaction, but I don't think it is appropriate to cause such a fuss at the national day celebration," he said.

Young said that as he was leaving the National Day celebrations he thought that demonstrators must behave lawfully.

Other envoys who attended the banquet expressed their regret over the conflicts as well, but many said that they considered it a part of the democratic phenomenon.

Steve Waters, the representative of the Australian Commerce and Industry Office, said protests were the product of democracy, and praised the police for doing a good job because of the difficulties in controlling such a big event.

"Some of the lawmakers' performances might be simple political calculations, and people should take it easy," Waters told the Taipei Times.

"But my concern is whether these actions would damage the institution of democracy, and there should be enough legal reasons for protesters to ask the president to step down -- and that is my personal opinion," Waters said.

Earlier in the day Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Rosales had told press that he had personally witnessed the country's diverse democracy and the vitality of the Taiwanese people.

Foreign representatives, ambassadors and government officials were invited to last night's banquet. Chen, who has attended the event in past years, did not attend.

According to Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山), the president was hosting a banquet for the Honduran president at the Grand Hotel.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said the disorder at the national celebration was "terrible," adding that it was regrettable have to see the incident "frighten many foreign guests."

"They [protesters] don't have to do this. There are so many channels to voice their appeals. I feel sad about it," Wu said.

But Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao (楊子葆) said he took a more tolerant view of the clamor made by red-clad people, believing it to be a necessary course for Taiwan's democracy.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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