It will be up to local authorities to decide whether to erect shoe-catching nets to protect President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at public engagements, National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) said yesterday, countering media reports that Ma was opposed to the measure.
“Ma has never discussed shoe-catching issues with me, as it is up to city and county police departments where he is attending an event to decide if the nets are necessary to guarantee the president’s security,” Tsai said on the sidelines of a legislative committee meeting.
Newspapers have reported that Ma disapproved of using nets to catch shoes hurled by demonstrators — which has become a popular act of protest recently — and prohibited their use.
Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏) also rebutted the reports on Sunday, saying the president has consistently followed the recommendations made by the bureau’s Special Service Center, including on the nets.
Tsai said that to his knowledge, Ma has not formally asked for the nets not to be used.
“Local police units are authorized to decide whether to deploy such a measure to facilitate crowd control and protect the head of state,” Tsai said, adding that the bureau typically respects security assessments made by local police.
Fielding questions from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀), Tsai said shoe-tossing is an act of violence and should be stopped, adding that it could be potentially dangerous if it escalates, such as by protesters putting bricks in the shoes.
Asked about the bureau’s security guidelines, Tsai said it would not adopt heavy measures as long as protesters do not act dangerously or compromise Ma’s safety.