The opening ceremony for the National Center for Performing Arts in Taipei took an unexpected twist on Monday when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was invited to join other dignitaries in inflating balloons with bicycle pumps.
However, of the dozen dignitaries on the stage, including Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) and Taipei Story House managing director Chen Kuo-tsi (陳國慈), only Ma had a pump that had been decorated with a sunflower pin.
Netizens were quick to make light of the incident, saying Ma was showing support for the Sunflower movement against the service trade agreement, as the Chinese term for pumping air, daqi (打氣), can also mean “cheering someone.”
“At last, Ma has decided to bow to the Sunflower [movement],” one netizen wrote.
Another wrote: “Gotcha, Ma is actually an opponent of the cross-strait agreement!”
The Sunflower movement was spearheaded by several members of the Black Island Nation Youth group, who led hundreds of student protesters into the Legislative Yuan on March 18 to protest against the government’s handling of the trade pact.
The occupation of the legislature is scheduled to end tomorrow.
An official at the Presidential Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the organizer of Monday’s ceremony was a private company.
“The organizer is deeply sorry for letting the ‘oversight’ distract from the event,” the official said, calling the emblem “a little yellow flower,” rather than a sunflower.