Tue, May 20, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Police out in force for ceremony

MOBILIZED Over 530 foreign dignitaries and guests are expected to participate in the event, with 22 of Taiwan’s 23 diplomatic allies sending special envoys

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Honor guards rehearse yesterday in front of the Taipei Arena, the main venue of the celebration to mark the presidential inauguration today, while cleaning personnel prepared the red carpet.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

A total of 2,000 Taipei police officers will be mobilized to provide security coverage outside the main venue of the celebration to mark the inauguration of president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) today, Taipei police chief Wang Cho-chun (王卓鈞) said yesterday.

Wang made the comment during an inspection visit by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to the Taipei Arena, where the ceremony will be held.

Noting that central government units are responsible for security within the building and that the Taipei police department is responsible for security outside, Wang said that 1,200 regular police officers as well as 800 riot police have been mobilized for the event.

The Songshan branch of the Taipei police department will shoulder the main responsibility of providing security and maintaining order at the inauguration ceremony, while the Shilin, Beitou, Tatung and Neihu branches will help out, Wang said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Fire Department will mobilize 1,000 firefighters and 20 trucks to provide support at the event, said Pi Yu-ming (畢幼明), a division chief of the fire department.

Ma will begin his inauguration today by first taking his oath at the Presidential Office at 9am with Siew.

The swearing-in ceremony will be broadcast live on a big screen inside the Taipei Arena — where the inauguration ceremony will be held between 9:30am and 11:45am before an audience of about 12,000 people.

Following the ceremony at the Presidential Office, Ma will head for the Taipei Arena to give his inauguration speech.

Outgoing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will not attend the ceremony in the arena, nor will outgoing DPP chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and his running mate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) — who lost to the Ma-Siew ticket in the March presidential election.

Although the 27 DPP legislators were also invited, they would not attend the ceremony, either, citing the reason of “following past practice.”

Over 530 foreign dignitaries and guests are expected to participate in the celebration, with 22 of Taiwan’s 23 diplomatic allies dispatching special envoys, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

After the ceremony, Ma and Siew will host a luncheon at the Presidential Office, receive delegations from the US, Singapore and Japan, and meet with the King of Swaziland.

After the luncheon, Ma will travel to Kaohsiung to attend the inaugural banquet at Kaohsiung’s Grand Hi-lai Hotel.

According to the inauguration program, 900 to 1,000 guests have been invited to the inauguration banquet.

Ma and Siew will lead separate groups of 600 foreign dignitaries and guests on a trip via the High Speed Railway from Taipei to Kaohsiung to attend a variety of ceremonial events.

It will be the first time parts of the inauguration celebrations will have taken place outside the capital.

While in Kaohsiung, they will attend a tea reception held at the Ambassador Hotel and a one-hour inauguration fireworks display by the sea at 9pm between the True Love Pier and the Honorary Pier.

Programs that highlight local Taiwanese culture by local performers such as the Cloud Gate 2 and the U-Theatre will be presented during the inauguration ceremony and tea reception.

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