More than 200,000 people, according to organizers’ estimates, took to the streets yesterday to join independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in a carnival-themed campaign parade, voicing their support for Ko’s “campaign for a change.”
Including samba dancers, people dressed as characters from fairy tales, giant balloons in the shape of a four-headed dragon, Mother Teresa — and the first Presbyterian missionary to northern Taiwan, George Leslie Mackay — as well as decorated floats and people holding colorful flags reading “Hug for Taipei,” thousands paraded from Liberty Square to Taipei City Hall in what appeared to be a festival celebration rather than a campaign event.
The crowd was divided into eight sections, each represented by symbolic colors: red for friendship, orange for brevity, yellow for passion, green for creativity, blue for freedom, indigo for eagerness, purple for equality and white for tolerance and dreams.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Each section was led by a float decorated with specialties and landmarks from different districts in the municipality. Although the head of the parade left Liberty Square at about 2pm, Ko, his wife and his parents, who were at the end of the parade, did not depart until 3:30pm, because the parade route was jammed.
Many marchers and onlookers cheered as Ko and his family passed by, while others were eager to point out Ko to bystanders.
Although Zhongzheng (中正) and Daan (大安) districts — where the parade passed — are considered to be Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) strongholds, many residents waved to the parade from their windows and shouted their support.
“I would like to thank everyone for cheerfully taking part in the parade, embracing Taipei with love, welcoming the approaching mayoral election with feelings of festivity and looking forward to realizing the change,” Ko told his supporters in front of Taipei City Hall.
“Along the parade route, I saw bright colors, creativeness, and smiles on your faces. I would like to thank you for what you did with me — we succeeded in changing the political culture in Taiwan, elections are no longer about sorrow and threats; they are bright and joyful.”
Referring to his KMT rival, Sean Lien (連勝文), who cried during his own rally on Saturday, Ko said that unlike “another person” who was in tears during another parade and made it sorrowful, “I think the objective of politics is to make people happy, not sad.”
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Ko said that the parade ended at the city hall because, if he is elected, his government would be a transparent one and therefore he would “lead the people into the city hall.”
“In the past, due to differences in ideology, an invisible and cold wall had been erected in the city between you and me. The wall divided us into ‘pan-green’ and ‘pan-blue,’ pro-‘unification’ and pro-independence, nationals and imperial subjects,” Ko said. “The two sides of the wall hated each other, shouted at each other and opposed each other. We do not know when this wall appeared, or how long it has existed, but it makes our family relationships, friendships and loves suffer.”
“I am here to stand with everyone in the city, to tear down the wall with love and hugs,” he said.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Ko added that there are many challenges facing society, including an increasing wealth gap, the unequal distribution of social resources, housing injustice and injustice in education resources.
“These are all the walls we must tear down,” he said.
Police estimated that about 100,000 people attended the event.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.