Protests against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reached a climax yesterday as people across the nation came out and demonstrated, despite heavy rain, to voice their anger as Ma was inaugurated for his second four-year term. The series of nationwide protests were organized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).
The day began with hundreds of protesters throwing eggs at two giant posters of Ma and demanding that he apologize and that Premier Sean Chen step down during a rally organized by the TSU at Huashan Park (華山公園) in Taipei.
Holding banners denouncing the Ma administration, protesters also demanded that Ma freeze fuel and electricity price increases, maintain the ban on US beef imports containing residue of the feed additive ractopamine and change what they called his “authoritarian leadership.”
TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) cited 10 cases during Ma’s first term in which he had “betrayed” campaign pledges and declared that he was not fit for office.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) from the DPP also listed his grievances during the protest.
“While the president may have listed a ‘well-being economy’ as a goal in his inauguration speech, he does not understand what well--being means,” Hsieh said, “but each and every one of us knows what it means. It means removing the suffering from our lives by reducing unemployment, stabilizing consumer prices and increasing wages.”
The protesters then marched from the park to the intersection of Xiangyang Rd and Chongqing South Rd, about 500m away from the Presidential Office, where they staged a further rally.
Meanwhile, a protest organized by more than 40 pro-independence groups at the plaza in front of Taipei Railway Station nearly ended in conflict between demonstrators and police.
Activists who had launched a protest on May 13 and who were initially about 1,000-strong tried at least twice to occupy the adjacent Zhongxiao W Road on Saturday night and then again yesterday morning.
Taipei City police said the move was a violation of assembly regulations as the protesters had left the protest area that groups had applied to use. Police attempted to keep protesters within the designated area to avoid paralyzing traffic. Later on, riot police were deployed, but were then withdrawn before inciting violence.
In Banciao District (板橋), New Taipei City (新北市), former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Ma should apologize to the nation and laid out his plan for the next four years to improve people’s lives.
At Taipei’s Longshan Temple and Taichung Park in Greater Taichung, protesters wearing T-shirts printed with the Chinese character nu (怒), or “anger,” lay on the ground to spell out the character at DPP-organized events to express their frustration with the government.