Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

CROSS-STRAIT TALKS: Ma to chair media report meeting today

UNDERSTANDING A Department of Public Affairs official said the president wanted to chair the session because he was concerned about yesterday’s protests in Taichung

STAFF WRITER

Camouflage-clad protesters take to the streets of Taichung yesterday carrying pots and pans to highlight concerns that the government’s cross-strait policies will make it difficult for them to put food on the table.

PHOTO: SU MENG-JUAN, TAIPEI TIMES

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will chair the Presidential Office’s daily meeting on media reports today to gain a better understanding of how government agencies react to protests against the visit by China’s top cross-strait negotiator.

The meetings are usually chaired by the President Office’s deputy secretary-general. Today’s session will be the second time Ma chairs such a meeting. He chaired one in November last year ahead of a visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) for the second round of cross-strait talks in Taipei.

The security surrounding that visit were strongly criticized, with the police accused of overreacting to protesters and bystanders and several instances of brutality.

Freedom House called for an independent investigation into the violent clashes between the police and protesters during that visit.

Amnesty International asked that the Control Yuan address the serious concerns raised by the public in the wake of the protests and that the Ma administration end the practice of using the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) to deny freedom of assembly.

The International Federation for Human Rights called on the Ma administration to amend the Assembly and Parade Law, saying it was “a legacy of the Martial Law era.” It asked the government to abolish the requirement for mandatory permits and instead adopt a system of voluntary reporting. It also said the clause restricting assemblies from being held in certain areas gives the authorities too much discretion to restrict people’s freedom of association and freedom of expression.

Chen and his delegation are scheduled to arrive today and he will meet Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) tomorrow.

Paul Chang (張國葆), the acting director-general of the Department of Public Affairs, said yesterday that Ma wanted to chair today’s meeting because he was gravely concerned about yesterday’s demonstration organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Representatives of the National Security Council, National Police Administration, Government Information Office and other government agencies will attend today’s meeting, Chang said.

He said the position of the Presidential Office on the DPP’s protests was clear — that “the host must ensure the safety, comfort and dignity of the guests.”

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