Facing more questions over a cross-strait concert on Sunday that ended early due to a protest that ended in violence, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said the Taipei City Government did its duty properly, but cannot avoid criticism from people who have particular political intentions.
“Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival,” promoted by the Taipei and Shanghai municipal governments, began as scheduled at 2pm on Sunday at National Taiwan University’s athletics field, but was abruptly ended at 4pm due to protests.
The demonstrators consisted of students who claimed their right to use the venue was violated for a week and pro-Taiwan independence groups protesting the venue having been renamed “Taipei City Taiwan University” by organizers on posters and tickets, which they said was part of China’s “united front” tactics.
Three students were allegedly injured by a pro-unification group’s members outside the venue as the crowd dispersed.
After a meeting yesterday morning, Ko told reporters that “in regards to standard operating procedures, neither the Taipei Police Department nor the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs has done anything wrong.”
The cultural department had asked organizers to change “Taipei City Taiwan University” on the posters and tickets, which is just the type of action the department is responsible for, he said.
“If it [the original design circulating on the Internet] is used to discredit us as being pro-China in order to achieve political goals, then we cannot do anything about it,” Ko said. “The public should be smart enough to understand.”
Police respected the principle of university autonomy, he said, but added that in the future, if intelligence indicates the possibility of protests at major events, the police department and the Ministry of Education should develop a communication mechanism.
The festival was created through a memorandum of understanding on cultural exchanges signed with the Shanghai municipal government in 2010, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) said on a political talk show, adding that Ko should not shift the blame for the incident, as all 21 concerts organized under the agreement have been held over the past three years, after he became mayor.
In response to Ko’s remark on Monday that Taiwanese “need not be afraid of germs [China’s ‘united front’ tactics] if we have a strong immune system,” DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) yesterday in a radio interview called Ko the “biggest germ” and said: “Do parents give their children sewage water and say: ‘You will be all right as long as you have a good immune system?”
Asked whether he felt he was being smeared as being pro-China, Ko said: “The pan-green and pan-blue political ideologies should not interfere with or obstruct the nation’s development. That is wrong.”
“Things should not be exaggerated. It is way out of line to call me a member of the Chinese Community Party,” he added. “Why are they so earnestly smearing me as pro-China now?”
Asked whether he feels the DPP is intentionally discrediting him, Ko said: “Everyone knows very well in their hearts, so I am not going to debate it today.”
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