Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) has instructed the Taipei City Police Department to allow the unauthorized protests against government policies on Ketagalan Boulevard to continue, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor said yesterday, suggesting the move is a sign of Hau’s problematic relations with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
DPP Taipei City Councilor Tung Chung-yen (童仲彥), one of the organizers of the sit-in, said the mayor has instructed the police department not to expel protesters even though the sit-in was held without a permit.
“Mayor Hau is secretly endorsing the sit-in on Ketagalan Boulevard, and he is making an anti-Ma effort because he wants to gain public support and join the presidential election in 2016,” Tung said during a question-and-answer session with the police department at the Taipei City Council.
The ongoing sit-in, organized by DPP city councilors, marks the first of a series of protests over Ma’s performance that have been planned during the lead-up to his second inauguration on May 20.
Tung said the mayor is seeking public support by indulging the sit-in.
“The protesters and I must thank Mayor Hau for his support of the sit-in, and we welcome the mayor to join our anti-Ma movement,” he said.
Fang Yang-ning (方仰寧), director of the police department’s Zhongcheng First Division, dismissed Tung’s claims and said the sit-in was being handled by the division.
“We’ve given warnings to the protest organizers and ordered the protesters to leave the site. Given that the sit-in did not pose a threat to public order or traffic, we did not use measures to expel the protesters,” he said.
Fang insisted that the department respects the people’s right to rally and protest, and will not forcefully expel protesters unless they cause an immediate threat to public safety. He denied that Hau had given any orders about handling the sit-in.