Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Agencies pass the buck over handling of New Year protest

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The National Security Bureau (NSB) and the Ministry of National Defense yesterday pointed the finger at each other over the action military police officers took against a woman who shouted "[President] Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), step down" during the New Year flag-raising ceremony.

A group of officers carried the woman away and used towels to gag her, causing her to pass out. She was then taken to a police station before later being taken to hospital.

When the woman shouted "A-Bian [the president's nickname] step down," the officers shouted "Viva Republic of China" in a bid to drown her out.

Lieutenant General Hsu Li-mong (許立孟) of the bureau's special duty command center said that he had been awaiting punishment from his supervisor, Director Hsueh Shih-min (薛石民), since Jan. 3, but Hsueh had not yet come to a decision.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) criticized the NSB for deliberately delaying the process in the hope that the public would forget about the incident.

Hsu, however, said that there was a procedure to follow before any punishment was meted out. In other words, the bureau needed to hold a review meeting before handing down a verdict.

After calling a meeting on Jan. 2 to examine the implementation of security during the New Year ceremony, Hsu said that they discovered that orders had been carried out excessively and that the commander assigned to maintain order in the south parking lot, where the incident took place, should be held partially responsible.

Although he was in charge of overall security planning, Hsu denied that he was the one who ordered the military police to take such drastic action, adding that his order was to "implement the law strictly and handle the situation resolutely."

They would not physically disperse any protesters unless they first failed to talk them out of creating disturbances, Hsu said.

While Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) had pledged to mete out punishments but later changed his mind, KMT Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) said that she suspected his change of heart had something to do with his meeting with the president, who apparently endorsed the actions of the military police.

Secretary-General of the Armed Forces Police Command Wu Ying-ping (吳應平) said that the defense ministry and his command should not be held responsible because it was not their job to carry out special duties and if anything went wrong, it was the NSB's special duty commander center that should bear responsibility.

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