Fri, May 08, 2009 - Page 3 News List

DPP says Ma seeks to quell protests

RALLY The DPP said its sit-in would test the tolerant attitude the president had showed anti-Chen Shui-bian protesters in 2006 when he was mayor of Taipei

By Jenny W. Hsu and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

When asked for comment, Executive Yuan spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said the government respected the people’s right to freely express their opinions, but added that the public should be aware of the possible consequences of the demonstration for the country.

“There were 190,000 Chinese tourists traveling to Taiwan between January and April, bringing in NT$11.6 billion [US$350 million] in tourism revenue. This hard-earned result should be cherished,” Su said.

Su called on the DPP lawmakers to engage in rational talks with the KMT on their disagreements over the amendment to the Assembly and Parade Act instead of taking to the streets.

At a separate setting yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) promised to respect people’s right to protest and said he would handle the rally using a “soft approach.”

Hau said the DPP had acquired a permit to use Ketagalan Boulevard on May 17, but the KMT had a permit for the next day. He urged the DPP to negotiate with the KMT for the right to use the road.

“We will respect the sit-in as long as the DPP communicates with the KMT and gets the permit for May 18,” he said.

Hau declined to say whether police would disperse the crowd if protesters refused to leave on May 18, but said the city government was concerned about the rally’s impact on traffic if it continued through the next day, which will be a Monday.

Also yesterday, the legislature’s Procedure Committee, which holds its weekly meetings on Tuesday, was forced to hold an extra session after DPP legislators paralyzed the meeting on Tuesday to stop inclusion on today’s agenda of the Cabinet-proposed amendment to the Assembly and Parade Act.

The pan-blue-dominated committee agreed yesterday not to discuss the amendment today.

The amendment’s exclusion is expected to prevent the DPP from blocking today’s plenary session because the party had threatened to boycott future plenary sessions if the KMT included the proposed amendment on the agenda.

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), convener of the Procedure Committee, said lawmakers across party lines reached a consensus to put aside controversial proposals after legislators decided to extend goodwill to each other as the result of a cross-party negotiation session held by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, when commenting on rumors that Ma would again vie for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship, the DPP said the position would be more important than his capacity as president of the country in facilitating meetings with Chinese officials.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN AND FLORA WANG

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