Minister accuses Ma of encouraging illegal activity

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 3

Interior Minister Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) slammed Taipei Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for "encouraging the public to break the law" on Thursday in a ministry press release.

According to the release, the Taipei City Government recently announced that it will not fine, punish, or forcibly remove protesters who violate the traditional protest deadline of 10pm in the upcoming anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) sit-in in Taipei.

The anti-Chen sit-in is scheduled to commence on Sept. 9 on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office.

"It's hard to imagine that Ma was once a justice minister. Does he still hold the law to heart? Does he still recognize the rule of law?" Lee said in the release.

The release also states that if protesters do not disperse when the deadline is reached, the police will issue warnings to protesters and punish violators according to the law.

"As for forcibly removing protesters, such action will depend on the circumstances. However, [the police] will not rule out using force and encourage everybody to break the law, as the Taipei City Government has done," the release added.

The National Police Agency under the Ministry of the Interior announced on Thursday that as many as 4,600 police officers will be mobilized to maintain order at the upcoming sit-in, according to a Central News Agency (CNA) report yesterday. 1,700 officers will be dispatched by the Taipei City Police Department, with the rest deployed from nearby cities and counties, and by the agency itself, the report said.

In response to interior ministry officials' and Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) comments that Ma was "manipulating the law," the KMT chairman told reporters on Thursday that it was up to the Taipei City Police Department to make a final decision on handling violence or other illegal activities at the protest.

"The Taipei police department is the agency in charge of handling matters pertaining to the Parade and Assembly Law [in this case] ... If Premier Su had read the law more carefully, he wouldn't be making such criticisms," Ma is quoted as saying in a CNA report yesterday.