Tens of thousands of people in Taipei yesterday took part in the “Autumn Struggle” (秋鬥) — an annual protest march by labor groups — but with this year’s focus on rejecting the government’s plan to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue.
“Against poisonous pork, against double standards, against a party-state,” the protesters, mostly wearing black, chanted in front of the rally’s main stage on Ketagalan Boulevard at about noon, before a parade set off at 2pm.
Autumn Struggle spokesperson Lee Chien-cheng (李建誠) said this year’s march was divided into three teams, with the first team urging food safety and labor rights, the second concentrating on environmental protection and education issues, and the third urging proper land use and freedom of speech.
Photo: Chiang Ying-ying, AP
The protesters collectively called on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to revoke her executive order to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine, and for Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to step down over government policies that caused public complaints, Lee said.
A small, black stage decorated with white flowers was also set up on the back of a truck, mimicking a funeral hall, and black banners hung on the sides read “Ractopamine-containing pork poisoned Taiwan, democracy is dead,” “Say farewell to the health we are about to lose and mourn over Taiwan’s freedom of speech.”
The rally organizers had said political parties were welcome to join the parade, but politicians would not be allowed to speak on the main stage.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) set up its own stage at Liberty Square, while the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) called a news conference outside the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall MRT Station.
Two large inflatable pigs flanked the KMT’s stage, while KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) addressed the crowd.
“The government does not accept supervision, does not communicate and does not explain, and it is being arrogant and overbearing,” Chiang said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
As Tsai had asked then-president Ma to take part in a televised debate over the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010, the KMT is now urging Tsai to accept a televised debate on her plan to lift the ban on US pork containing ractopamine.
Ma said more than 160 countries ban the use of ractopamine in animal feed and more people in the US are now against it as well, so Tsai should renegotiate with the US and tell them that Taiwanese welcome US pork, but not pork containing ractopamine.
The KMT said that more than 20,000 supporters joined its protest.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
The TPP said that more than 3,000 people joined its rally supporting its two main demands of “source management and clear labeling” on imported US pork containing ractopamine.
TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is also Taipei mayor, was absent on the grounds that he has to uphold administrative neutrality.
TPP Secretary-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of using double standards, as it was against the importation of pork containing ractopamine when it was in the opposition.
Photo: Chiang Ying-ying, AP
Want Want China Times Media Group (旺旺中時集團) founder and CTi News owner Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) also marched, wearing a black T-shirt that read “I want freedom of speech,” as he accused the DPP government of neglecting public opinion and curtailing freedom of speech.
The National Communications Commission last week refused to renew CTi News’ broadcast license, citing frequent contraventions of media regulations, far exceeding other channels.
The march ended at about 4pm in front of the DPP’s headquarters, where participants pasted paper signs that read “poison” on the fence outside the party’s building.
Organizers said about 50,000 people participated in the rally.
Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said the government would humbly listen to people’s voices and continue to communicate with the public, but urged the opposition to discuss the issues rationally in the legislature.
Additional reporting by CNA
RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE: People must wear a mask when outdoors, while employers should allow working from home or flexible hours, Chen Shih-chung said The Cabinet yesterday extended a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert until June 28 as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported 211 locally transmitted cases and 26 deaths. The CECC on May 15 issued the level 3 alert for Taipei and New Taipei City, saying it would last until May 28. Four days later, it expanded the alert to the entire nation before announcing on May 28 that the alert period had been extended to Monday next week. The latest extension was announced following a disease prevention meeting at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung
‘DO NOT STAY TOO LONG’: People would be required to provide personal contact information when entering traditional markets, and illegal vendors would be fined The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced five crowd control measures for traditional and night markets as it reported 335 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, eight backlogged cases and 36 deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 335 new local cases are 189 males and 146 females, adding that they developed symptoms from May 24 to Saturday. The eight backlogged cases are three men and five women aged 20 to 70, Chen said. They began experiencing symptoms on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said. As most of the pending cases due to delayed test results
PRIORITY GROUPS: A line of people were waiting at the Good Liver Clinic, apparently to get shots, while the CECC announced more priority groups for jabs The Taipei-based Good Liver Clinic is to be fined NT$2 million (US$72,028) after giving free COVID-19 vaccine shots to people not in groups eligible to receive them, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday. The Zhongshan District (中山)-based clinic was removed from the city’s list of vaccination venues and health officials would be investigated for giving 1,113 doses to the clinic, Huang told an afternoon news conference at Taipei City Hall. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Tuesday in an exclusive story citing an anonymous tip reported that a Taipei clinic was doling out unused vaccines. People in
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged