Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday sparked further controversy over a raid at the Novotel Hotel at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport by saying that collective rights are of equal importance to an individual’s private rights, including rights to accommodation.
Jiang made the remarks when addressing Aboriginal issues at a press conference at the Executive Yuan held to announce the recognition of Hla’alua and Kanakanavu as the nation’s 15th and 16th indigenous groups.
Novotel staffers and several unidentified people, citing a registration problem, about 9am on Wednesday broke into a room where rights activist and attorney Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) and six other members of Democracy Tautin were meeting and demanded that they leave.
The seven were planning to hang banners from their hotel room windows when China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) arrived at the hotel.
The concept of human rights was linked to an individual’s private rights when they first appeared in history, such as an individual’s right to property, right to movement and right to accommodation, but a breakthrough made in the realm of human rights in the 20th century was the emphasis placed on collective rights, namely rights held by a tribe or a group, the premier said.
However, in a press release issued later in the day, the examples cited by Jiang were omitted.
The premier’s comments were viewed as support for the law enforcement’s stance against the activists and quickly drew complaints.
“Was that the way of thinking for a self-claimed liberal academic or has he [Jiang] changed his thinking since he became the premier?” one netizen wrote.
Another wrote: “It sounded like a Chinese [government] official.”
“The Executive Yuan might as well shut down. Who knows when it will sell out the interests and rights of the nation and of Taiwanese for the sake of its ‘collective rights,’” a netizen identified as Bao Hsiang Liu said.
Meanwhile, activists and police officials argued over Wednesday’s incident, with activists accusing the police of abusing state power and the police denying any wrongdoing.
At a morning press conference organized by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), Urda Yen (嚴婉玲), executive secretary of Democracy Tautin, said the Aviation Police Bureau (APB) and hotel staff had raided the room on the “ridiculous claim” that they must leave because some guests were not registered.
The police and hotel staff also asked them to leave the hotel through the back door, Yen said, adding that she had been followed by three police cars when she briefly left and returned to the hotel before the break-in.
“The action of the hotel and the police was a violation of personal liberty protected by the Constitution,” Yen said.
Novotel Hotel said it called police in accordance with the Regulations for the Administration of Hotel Enterprises (旅館業管理規則), which stipulates that hotels should report information on lodgers to the local police department daily and report any “forcible taking of lodging without presenting proper identification documentation.”
Activist Chien Nien-yu (簡年祐) asked if the APB received such hotel information on a daily basis.
APB Criminal Investigation Squad Director Lin Yuan-cheng (林淵城) said the bureau did not receive such data because of the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).
Lin said the bureau sent police officers to the site at the hotel’s request and the people who broke into Lai’s room were hotel staff.
“It was only natural for Miss Yen to see police cars since we were there to maintain order,” Lin said.
Another bureau official, Huang Hsiu-chen (黃秀真), denied that the bureau had limited the activists’ personal liberty, saying that police officers were sent to “show care” for the activists and it was the hotel that insisted on them being evacuated.
Since the floating population registration regulation — the basis of the Regulations for the Administration of Hotel Enterprises — was abolished in 2008 by the National Police Agency, TSU Legislator Lai Chen-chang (賴振昌) said the actions by the hotel and the police could be illegal.
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