The fight over the right to use Ketagalan Boulevard, a major venue in Taipei for large-scale rallies and protests, has started again as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the opposition parties rush to obtain permits for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration on May 20.
Competition for permits began two weeks ago when several people lined up in front of Taipei City Hall for 24 hours. While occupying the spot for road permit applications, the potential applicants declined to comment on which organizations they were representing or whether they were trying to obtain permits for May 20.
The KMT’s Taipei branch director Chung Ze-liang (鍾則良) yesterday acknowledged that the party sent people to line up to obtain permits for Ketagalan Boulevard on May 19 and May 20, to use the venue to hold celebratory activities for Ma’s inauguration.
However, the branch may have to cancel its plans, he said, as the central government recently informed the Taipei City Government that Ketagalan Boulevard and the surrounding area, including Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, would be sealed off during the inauguration ceremony and other official activities.
The Taipei City Government’s New Construction Office confirmed that the central government’s preparatory committee for the inauguration event had informed the city government that Ketagalan Boulevard and Chongqing S Road would be used for the ceremony and official activities, and so permits for the area would not be available.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) yesterday said the party had planned to obtain a permit to use the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on May 20 to hold a rally, but that its request was rejected by the Taipei City Government.
“The KMT is exercising the same old tricks to prevent the opposition from obtaining permits to organize rallies on the boulevard by sending people to line up outside for 24 hours. This is an act against the people’s right to protest,” he said.
In addition to the DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union also planned to organize rallies on May 20 to protest against what it calls Ma’s incompetence and the government’s controversial “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” proposal.
Neither the Presidential Office nor the preparatory committee has yet announced the venue for Ma’s inauguration ceremony.