Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 3 News List

DPP continues to question Ma over national flag past

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus continued to lambaste Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday over the question of whether, as Taipei mayor, he had forbidden the display of the national flags at international sports events.

At a press conference, DPP caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) criticized Ma for being "indecisive" and "contradicting himself" when faced with major issues such as whether the national flag should be allowed at international sports events.

Former DPP legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), who attended the conference, showed the press copies of an official Taipei City Government document, which Tuan said proved that the city government had prevented people from bringing national flags to the 2001 Asian Women's Soccer Championship in Taipei.

The document, dated Dec. 4, 2001, was a record of a meeting chaired by then-deputy Taipei mayor Pai Hsiu-hsiung (白秀雄), in which the city government discussed the establishment of a task force to deal with crises during the tournament.

The document showed that one of the six scenarios discussed during the meeting involved the task force and police persuading people to refrain from waving the national flag, singing patriotic songs or clapping their hands to prevent conflict with the Chinese delegation.

Tuan said Ma should be held responsible for the manner in which the city government had dealt with the issueand explain himself to the public.

Ma repeated yesterday that he had never banned audiences from bringing the national flag to international sports events, adding that he would sue Tuan for defamation.

"I've never enforced such a ban verbally or in written statements ... I am surprised yet moved that some DPP politicians suddenly have a passion for our national flag," Ma said during a visit to Kaohsiung County.

"I will invite them to attend the flag-raising ceremony and sing the national anthem. I hope they won't refuse," he said.

Ma spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said that the record of the meeting Tuan had presented was that of a municipal meeting held by the Taipei City Department of Education and that Ma had not presided over or attended the meeting.

"The record also showed that what the department sought to do was dissuade people from bringing the national flag rather than enforce a ban. Tuan used the record to prove that Ma did not enforce the ban," Lo said.

Lo said Tuan should condemn his fellow DPP members, including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who refused to sing the national anthem during last year's Double Ten National Day ceremony.

The Taipei City Government yesterday showed copies of municipal meetings in 2001 and 2002 to defend Ma's position on the national flag.

During the meeting in 2002, held to discuss a national flag incident during the Asian women's football championship, Ma said it was the Chinese Taipei Women's Football Association that had dissuaded the audience from waving the flag during the game, following protests by China.

During the meeting, Ma said the host of the event had agreed to follow International Olympic Committee regulations and not display the flag during the event.

"If Tuan holds the national flag in such esteem, he should start to display it in his campaign office, on his campaign van and at his campaign rallies," KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said.

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