KMT wants ‘protest site’ across from its congress

GEARING UP::Ma Ying-jeou told KMT officials that the right to protest must be respected. The final decision about the location of the site is up to the Taichung police

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Oct 31, 2013 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday said it would work with Greater Taichung police to set up a “demonstration area” when it holds its national congress on Nov. 10 after various groups announced plans to protest against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during the event.

The congress, which was delayed since last month because of the demonstrations planned against Ma, will be held at Taichung Stadium in Wuci District (梧棲). The party has been negotiating with local police on security measures since choosing the venue.

Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, yesterday promised to ensure the safety and dignity of party delegates during the event in response to concerns voiced by some Central Standing Committee (CSC) members over possible shoe-throwing protests.

He told party officials to ensure the congress proceeds smoothly, while respecting the right of the public to protest and to refrain from causing too much disturbance.

“It is difficult to engage in dialogue with [protesters], but I am willing to listen and talk to them... There are issues that are not under the central government’s authority and we are doing what we can [to address their demands],” he said while presiding over a CSC meeting at the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei.

Several groups have applied for protest permits to voice their concerns on a number of issues, including the economy, the services trade agreement with China and the government’s handling of labor pensions and the demolition of houses in Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔).

The KMT wants an area across the street from the stadium, which could hold several thousand people, set aside for protests and petitioners. The final arrangements are up to the Greater Taichung Police Department.

Police Department Director Diao Chien-sheng (刁建生) said the police will not finalize the exact site for demonstrators until it confirmed how many groups want to hold rallies during the event.

“Not all the protesters are willing to go to the demonstration area. We will enforce the law if any illegal protests are held,” he said.

Nets to catch shoes or other objects hurled by demonstrators — which has become a popular form of protest recently — will be prepared, but may not be used, Diao added.