The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday rebutted accusations from the Taiwan Society and others that it was breaching freedom of expression by issuing a letter of inquiry to the group that organized a major rally held last Saturday.
The rally drew tens of thousands of participants protesting the government’s cross-strait policies, and called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, save the economy and help to accelerate the adoption of “sunshine bills.”
“We received a letter from the MOI on Monday saying that someone filed a complaint with them that said [the Taiwan Society] may have violated the Civil Associations Act [人民團體法] by organizing the Aug. 30 rally and asked them to reply within 10 days,” Taiwan Society secretary-general Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) told the Taipei Times via telephone.
The person who filed the complaint said the Taiwan Society may have violated the law because the organization is registered as a social group, which could mean it may not engage in political activities.
“But we applied and received a rally permit from the appropriate government agencies, and the purpose of the rally was about social interests,” Lo said. “Rallies are a way for people to express their opinions. What the MOI is doing to us makes us feel that they’re trying to get revenge.”
The Democratic Progressive Party’s Department of Culture and Information director Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) also criticized the MOI, saying that “It is ridiculous to say that a social group may not hold rallies on political themes — there is simply no such restriction in the Civil Associations Act.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Justin Chou (周守訓) echoed the view, and said that the way the ministry was handling the complaint would “remind people of the authoritarian rule during the White Terror.”
In response, director of the ministry’s Department of Social Affairs Tseng Chung-ming (曾中明) told a press conference yesterday afternoon that asking for an explanation from the Taiwan Society was just part of standard procedure.
“We understand that our friends at the Taiwan Society may not feel very comfortable after receiving the letter, however, we ask for your understanding that handling complaints from people is an unavoidable responsibility of the Department of Social Affairs,” Tseng said.
However, Tseng also said that there may have been some problems with the way the issue was handled.
“We will humbly accept criticism and opinions from all, and will take care of similar issues more flexibly to meet public expectations,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG
VOTERS’ CHOICE: The DPP’s Chen and independent candidate Huang conceded defeat before 7:20pm, with Chiang pledging to remain humble and do his best Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday won the Taipei mayoral election, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate defeating the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) pick, former minister of health and welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), an independent. After polling stations closed at 4pm, the Taipei Election Commission issued a preliminary estimate that voter turnout in the city was about 64 percent, slightly lower than in 2018. Chiang, 43, is to be the youngest Taipei mayor ever, with the KMT regaining the capital after eight years. Chen had an exceptionally high national approval rating when he was head
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Chiang was effective in running a cautious campaign to avoid making mistakes, waiting for other candidates to slip up, an analyst said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei Mayor-elect Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) stood out among his rivals due to his energy, his die-hard supporters and his relative openness to discuss issues such as same-sex marriage, a political analyst said yesterday. Chiang’s campaign was also aided by his family’s background in politics, which helped him garner greater support in Taipei where there is a large KMT base, said the analyst, who chose to remain anonymous. “Chiang is also not a typical KMT member when it comes to certain issues, such as gay marriage, and his more open stance widened his support base — particularly among young
First-time politician Mai Yamada’s (山田摩衣) Japanese name has attracted attention in Chinese-language media after her win in the New Taipei City Council election on Saturday. Born to a Taiwanese mother and Japanese father, the 32-year-old Taiwanese-Japanese stood out after becoming one of nine elected city councilors in Banciao District (板橋) in the nation’s local government elections on Saturday. Although she has a Japanese name, she grew up and was educated in Taiwan, Yamada said, adding that “Taiwan is my home.” Before running for local government, Yamada, who speaks fluent Japanese and English, was Legislative Speaker You Si-kun’s (游錫堃) secretary. She has been involved in
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it