The Taipei Police Department yesterday said there might be a shift in policy after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) city councilors questioned its refusal to announce an official estimate of the number of people at a rally for Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) on Saturday.
The organizer of the rally on Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard to support Han’s possible presidential campaign said that it drew more than 400,000 people.
However, a local newspaper on Sunday reported that the Taipei Police Department’s estimate of the crowd size was only about 70,000, while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) wrote on Facebook that the area could only accommodate about 75,000 people.
As the police department did not give an official estimate, politicians and pundits argued over how many people attended the rally and KMT city councilors yesterday asked whether there were political motivations behind the department not providing a number.
KMT Taipei City Councilor Dai Hsi-chin (戴錫欽) said that the department had given crowd estimates for large rallies on Ketagalan Boulevard in the past several years and asked why the department refused to provide a number for Saturday’s event.
Taipei Police Commissioner Chen Jia-chang (陳嘉昌) said that the department did not have an estimate of the crowd size, so he did not know where the number reported by the media outlet came from.
Dai asked Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) whether he or the National Police Agency ordered it not to release an estimate and how the department had deployed the right number of officers to maintain public safety if it had not assessed the crowd size.
Ko said he did not issue such an order and added that such issues were none of his business.
Neither Ko nor the agency had given him directives, Chen said, adding that he did not make an estimate because he thought it would not be necessary.
Estimating crowd sizes has nothing to do with maintaining public safety at a rally, Chen said.
The department often faces great pressure handling large rallies and people always have different opinions about its estimates, he said.
KMT Taipei City Councilor Chang Shi-gang (張斯綱) asked whether the department would stop providing crowd-size estimates given that there would be more large rallies with a presidential election next year.
It is unlikely that the department would not make estimates and even if it did and did not publish them, they would likely be leaked, Ko said.
The department would work toward not releasing estimates of crowd sizes at major rallies in Taipei, Chen said.
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