Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) late on Sunday night finished his one-day cycling trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung, where he was met by protesting Taiwan Statebuilding Party members, who said Ko was using the 228 Incident to turn the spotlight on himself.
Ko, who is also the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) chairman, embarked on his third cycling trip to southern Taiwan at nearly 1am on Sunday, arriving at Changhua behind schedule at about 11am. He then returned to Taipei by high-speed rail to attend a 228 Incident memorial event, before traveling to Tainan in the afternoon to continue the trip.
He originally planned to arrive at Kaohsiung’s Dayi Junior High School in Kaohsiung at 9pm on Sunday, but his cycling team arrived just before 10pm. Ko was greeted by about 200 cheering supporters, as well as about 50 protesters.
Holding signs that read: “Stop taking advantage of the 228 Incident, we refuse to let pain become entertainment,” the protesters had a brief incident with police, who blocked them from approaching Ko.
The protesters said the purpose of Ko’s annual cycling trips on Feb. 28 is not to commemorate the Incident, as he allocated more city government funds for the cycling trip than for the memorial event in Taipei, adding that they suspect Ko’s real aim is to attract attention.
Ko said that Taiwan is a democratic and diverse society with many voices, so there is nothing unusual about people protesting against him.
Asked whether he was exhausted from the trip, Ko said he began the trip at 1am, rode for about 160km, returned to Taipei and continued for another 56km — adding up to almost 220km in one day — so he was tired and just wanted “to get a good night’s sleep.”
TPP spokesperson Yang Bao-zheng (楊寶楨) later yesterday said that “instead of criticizing another opposing party’s chairman for taking a different approach in commemorating the 228 Incident, they [the Taiwan Statebuilding Party] should ask why the ruling party is continuing to handle the past authoritarian regime’s legacy half-heartedly.”
Ko’s attitude toward transitional justice is “to solve current problems, prevent them from happening again and to hold people accountable for their past wrongdoings,” Yang said, adding that the ruling party cannot even solve problems such as issues concerning the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
TPP secretary-general Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) promised to arrange a discussion between the Taiwan Statebuilding Party and TPP members, so that they could hopefully overcome any biases and find the best direction for Taiwan, Yang added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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