Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office in crisis: Shih lashes out at Ma over protest

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The leader of the campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday denounced Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for failing to put the public's interests first when he ordered the police to disperse the protesters on Ketagalan Boulevard early yesterday morning.

Upon learning of first lady Wu Shu-jen's (吳淑珍) indictment on corruption charges, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman and anti-Chen campaign leader Shih Ming-teh (施明德) returned to the protest site in front of Taipei Railway Station on Friday night to celebrate the investigation's results.

He later led the crowd in occupying Ketagalan Boulevard -- despite the lack of a permit -- until they were dispersed by Taipei City police at around 5am yesterday.

Shih said that Ma, who also serves as the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) chairman, knew only to obey the law, adding that the mayor should be held responsible for the protesters who were hurt during the clashes with the police.

"Was Ma defending the law or defending his position in the 2008 presidential election?" Shih said in front of the station.

In response to Shih's accusations, Ma insisted that the Taipei City Government would continue to deal with the matter according to the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法).

"The police will handle any protests and rallies according to the law," he said at the KMT headquarters.

According to Lee Shu-chuan (李四川), director of Taipei's Bureau of Public Works' New Construction Department, the anti-Chen campaign did not have a permit to occupy Ketalagan Boulevard, but that it has applied for one from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9.

Lee added though that the campaign still has to gain approval to stage a protest on the boulevard from the police department.

While Shih claimed that the demonstrators would return to Ketagalan Boulevard in the afternoon, the deputy coordinator of the anti-corruption campaign, Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰) later announced that they had changed plans and would instead support the KMT's rally today.

"The KMT will hold an anti-Chen rally in Taipei, and since we share the same goal as the party, we will be glad to let them take the lead," Lin said.

In addition to supporting the KMT's rally, Lin said this would "give the DPP some time for self-examination."

Lin said the campaign would announce further plans after holding a staff meeting.

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