Families of 228 Massacre victims may follow the example of Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi, who famously threw a shoe at former US president George W. Bush last December, by throwing shoes at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at this year’s 228 Day Memorial Service, Chinese-language media reported yesterday.
The memorial service, which will be hosted by the 228 Memorial Foundation, will take place this month in Kaohsiung. The Taipei City Government will also host a service the same day in the capital.
Feb. 28, or 228, is a holiday that commemorates the 228 Incident, a massacre that took place in 1947 when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops suppressed a Taiwanese uprising, leaving tens of thousands dead, missing or imprisoned.
Newspapers yesterday reported that families of the incident’s victims would stage a protest against Ma during the memorial service to express their dissatisfaction with the government and a suggestion by a KMT legislator on Sunday that the holiday be scrapped.
“We have not heard of such plans,” representatives of the 228 Memorial Foundation said. “It is unlikely to happen, as we will have security guards at the event.”
The Presidential Office said yesterday that Ma was willing to face protesters no matter what action they take, as Taiwan needs reconciliation.
Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma viewed 228 as an important day and that he would do his best to attend both memorial services in Taipei and Kaohsiung despite his busy schedule.
“The president knows some protesters plan to throw shoes at him. This is not the first 228-related activity that he will be attending. During his time as Taipei mayor and KMT chairman, he also participated in several 228 memorial services where protests occurred,” Wang said.
The president, Wang said, would be willing to deal with any impoliteness because “he believes history must be dealt with honestly and that there must be reconciliation among people.”
“The president will do everything in his power to attend the services and we hope the protesters will express their opinions in an appropriate manner,” he said.
KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said the president should endure any planned protests by family members of victims of the incident.
“[He] still has to endure [the protests] even if people are going to throw shoes, stones or eggs at him, because the incident is a scar in Taiwan’s history and the president has the obligation to heal the sorrow,” she said.
However, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) urged protesters not to throw shoes.
Following the shoe attack on Bush last year, a German student threw a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) this month during his visit to Britain’s Cambridge University.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU AND FLORA WANG