Under normal circumstances, these young Taiwanese professionals would be doing just what about any other people their age would do on a Saturday afternoon: rest, or go shopping. But for the three or four sitting at the table sipping cappuccinos and smoking cigarettes, shopping is the last thing on their mind.
It’s only a couple of days before the arrival of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yulin (陳雲林) and already their anxiety is palpable. Like many others this past week, they are planning on demonstrating his presence in Taiwan, as well as the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s opening to China.
What truly worries them, however, isn’t Chen’s presence here, or even Taipei’s closer relations with Beijing. Their primary concern lies at home, with what they see as a dangerous and rapid shift toward authoritarian rule under Ma.
“Look at the indictment of [Democratic Progressive Party Tainan City Councilor] Wang Ting-yu (王定宇). It only took them eight or nine days” to conduct the investigation, one said.
Added to this are the government’s restrictions on assembly and demonstrations outside the Presidential Office Building and the many instances where police have disrupted the activities of people who were not breaking the law, such as Wu Ting-ho (吳庭和), a World United Formosans for Independence member, who was manhandled by a group of police officers in front of the Presidential Office Building on Oct. 11.
Wu wasn’t doing anything wrong, he wasn’t breaking the law, one of the young professionals told the Taipei Times. They stopped him because of what was written on his T-shirt. Video footage shown to the Taipei Times also showed two elderly individuals being forced to leave the premises.
“We’re scared,” another said.
Because of the arbitrariness of police action and how unclear the rules about what constitutes a violation of the law have become, “we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we’ll be arrested.”
For many of them, such police action is new, as they were too young to remember when the nation was still under martial law.
“Look at the [anti Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)] demonstrations by the ‘Red Shirts’ last year,” one said. “They were allowed to demonstrate for months, to camp at [Taipei Main Station] and the police didn’t bother them.”
Asked if Chen Yulin’s motorcade would try to avoid demonstrators by using the back streets, one of them said: “No. For such an important figure, using the back streets would be a loss of face. His car will use major roads.”
“That’s why there will be such a large police presence,” the person said. “There’s going to be 7,000 police officers deployed for Chen’s visit.”
“We’re pretty pessimistic,” another said. “Maybe some of us want to be arrested. It feels like it’s martial law all over again. Perhaps what the Ma government is doing by cracking down on dissent and freedom of speech is preparing the terrain” for a Taiwan that is part of China.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time
Taipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of
REPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials said A New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. He was seen leaving his home on a scooter with his girlfriend on Saturday, three days after he was fined NT$200,000 for going outside to exercise, police said. Chen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public