The barbed wire barricades that have been erected and the traffic restrictions that have been implemented in Greater Taichung ahead of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) national congress today have fueled complaints from local residents.
Saying the move is like “returning Taiwan to the martial law era,” a number of residents denounced the KMT and criticized the police for setting up barricades as early as on Friday to block off the access roads to the Taichung Harbor Sports Stadium, where the party congress is to take place.
Residents who live near the venue said a large number of police units arrived during the day on Friday to set up rows of barricades on Wenchang Road (文昌路) and Wenhua Road (文華路), the two major thoroughfares around the sports stadium.
The large mobilization of police units drew curious crowds from nearby areas to watch the operation.
“The KMT is just holding a congress meeting, but so many law-enforcement units and so much manpower has been mobilized,” a local grocer said.
Meanwhile, traffic restrictions were imposed, starting yesterday.
“The police have imposed traffic restrictions with roadblocks, how can people around here conduct our regular business?” the proprietor said.
Chingshuei Police Station chief Liu Hsi-ming (劉錫明) explained that the KMT has rented the sports stadium from Thursday to this evening at 10pm, and the party’s permit was to use the surrounding roads.
“To mitigate impact on residents, we have flexible measures on regulating traffic on Saturday, while strict enforcement and control of vehicles is to only start at 6am on Sunday,” he said. “For the other main thoroughfares, there is no restriction and traffic will not be affected.
Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said on Friday that city officials will ensure the event is conducted in peace.
However, Democratic Progressive Party Greater Taichung chapter director Tseng Chao-jung (曾朝榮) said Taichung police had already mobilized manpower and resources in excess of what was needed.
“It is all to pander to the wishes of the KMT and the congress organizers, to impose strict control on the whole area, at nearly 2km2, and to block people off from the venue,” he said. “The KMT and the police are curtailing the people’s right to free speech and freedom of expression.”