Pro-localization groups stage rally on Ma’s 100th day

By Mo Yan-chih, Rich Chang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Sat, Aug 30, 2008 - Page 3

The rally to be staged today in Taipei City is a pro-Taiwan event and not a show of support for former president Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.

Director of the DPP’s Department of Culture and Information Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) told a press conference yesterday that the rally, organized by a number of pro-localization groups, is aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty, protesting against the government’s poor performance on the economy and promoting “sunshine bills.”

The date of the protest was chosen to coincide with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) 100th day in office.

Cheng denied charges by some pan-blues that the rally is a show of support for Chen.

“Although it is a fact that Chen played an important part in the DPP’s history, the party should say goodbye to that period of its history and move toward a future without Chen,” Cheng quoted DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as saying.

Calling on the public to join the rally, Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) of the DPP, at a separate press conference yesterday, accused Ma of failing to improve the economic situation in Taipei and putting more than 2,000 shops out of business over the last two months.

Statistics showed that the commodity price index rose to 6.75 percent last month from 1.9 percent last year, Wu said.

In the 100 days since Ma’s administration assumed office on May 20, about 319 households in Taipei City have become low-income families and suffered from economic hardship, she said.

“Ma, a former Taipei mayor and his successor, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), have joined efforts to make the lives of Taipei residents more miserable. Shouldn’t they be sorry for letting Taipei residents down?” she said.

Commenting on the planned rally, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday said pro-independence groups should instead conduct a self-review for supporting Chen in the past.

“The [KMT] administration has been unable to boost the economy within 100 days after it assumed office because of the problems left behind by the previous [DPP] administration,” said Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), KMT caucus secretary-general.

“If officials of the previous government and pro-independence groups only blame [the economic downturn] on the new administration, it will be very difficult for our next generation to have a promising future,” Chang said.

But Chang added that the KMT should also review its own actions for failing to live up to public expectations.

KMT Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) said it was “ironic” for the pan-green camp to be protesting against Ma while Chen was under investigation for alleged money laundering.

“They have been saying that they want to denounce Ma, but is there any specific evidence showing that President Ma deserves to be criticized?” she said.

The Presidential Office said yesterday it respected the people’s rights to rally and assemble.

“Taiwan is a democratic society,” Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chih (王郁琦) said. “We respect the people’s right to assemble and stage rallies, and will handle the rally as a normal event.”

Ma declined to make remarks about the rally later yesterday when asked by reporters for comment.

The rally is scheduled to begin at 2:30pm, with participants assembling at two points. One group will meet at Longshan Temple in the Wanhua District (萬華) and the other at the square in front of the Wellcome supermarket near the intersection between Dunhua S Road and Zhongxiao E Road.

The two groups will then stage a parade, meeting at Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office.

Traffic control measures announced by the Taipei City’s Police Department yesterday said that Ketagalan Boulevard between Zhongshan S Road and Gongyuan Road will be closed from 10am to 10pm today. Flexible traffic control measures will be enforced along the rally route, the department said.

The department said it would deploy more than 2,000 police to maintain public order and control traffic this afternoon when the rally begins.

The traffic control will be expanded to Linsen S Road, Gongyuan Road, Aiguo E and W roads and Zhongxiao E and W roads if needed, the department reported.