President Chen Shui-bian (
Shouting "We cannot afford to live, prostitutes need to make a living," a middle-aged woman sprinted out from the audience holding a banner after Chen had finished speaking at the 30th Wu San-lien Awards ceremony at the Ambassador Hotel.
She was quickly escorted away from the venue by security personnel but continued shouting.
Another woman joined her and shouted: "Shame on you Chen Shui-bian. You and your entire family are corrupt. You should step down."
Before Chen arrived, about five men and women engaged in physical clashes with the police in the hotel lobby, shouting the same slogan. Three of them were taken away to a nearby police station for questioning.
Chen did not comment on the disturbances when leaving the venue.
But in his weekly electronic newsletter, he said his earlier response to a previous heckler was just "an expression of [his] heart-felt feeling."
"I did not intend to respond. I just said how I felt in my heart," he said. "As to whether it was appropriate, I am willing to examine myself honestly and listen to opinions."
Chen said he believed most people would agree that conflict cannot resolve problems and violence only breeds hatred.
Describing the matter as a "serious issue," Chen said that every citizen has freedom of speech in a liberal democracy and it is natural for a popularly elected president to receive criticism, especially in Taiwan where there is a huge political divide.
Chen said he was willing to accept criticism with an open mind, but there is room for discussion whether it is appropriate to stage protests at such a time, place and occasion.
Chen originally came under fire for making comments about a heckler who shouted: "People can barely make a living" while attending an exhibition at the World Trade Center on Nov. 8.
Chen mentioned the incident at another setting later that day, saying the heckler must have a decent lifestyle or he would not have had the time, frame of mind or money to attend the exhibition.
Chen shrugged off more hecklers at two functions in Taipei City on Saturday when protesters asked the government to preserve the Lo Sheng Sanatorium.
At a separate setting that day, a father shouted "A-bian [Chen's nickname] step down," before Chen was to deliver a speech at the Taipei Municipal Zhong Zheng Elementary School centennial celebrations.
Chen's bodyguards were also accused of manhandling several students who tried to plead their cause with the president when Chen was giving a speech during National Cheng Kung University's school anniversary on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (
"Whenever I say something or the president says something, the media report it in such a way that it sounds like I want to overthrow the presidency," Hsieh said. "My policy proposals are what I plan to do in the future, but the media create the misconception that the president and I are at odds over policies."