Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-24 02:42 PM
The party meeting was originally scheduled for September 29 at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in an upscale part of the capital, but after an announcement by Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan, reports said the new date would be October 26 and the new location Chungshan Hall, an ornate Chinese-style building in Yangmingshan, on a narrow road to a mountainous national park outside of town.
Leaders of massive protests against President Ma Ying-jeou, who also serves as KMT Chairman, planned for September 29 said he should not try to hide from them since they would find him wherever he held the congress.
Since there were several organizations responsible for varying protests at different sites, their immediate reaction to the KMT move varied. Some activists said they would move their event along with the KMT, others said a huge march to end in front of the Presidential Office building Sunday would go ahead but also include a walk around Ma’s official residence nearby.
The organizers called on members of the public to turn out in force Sunday, whatever the KMT decided to do with its congress. The people’s anger against the government and enthusiasm for the protest would not diminish, activists said.
Former Central Election Commission Chairman Huang Shih-cheng appeared at the group’s news conference, accusing the government of treating the people as its enemy.
Activists in charge of separate plans for a ‘siege’ of the KMT congress said they would change it to a solemn offering of flowers in commemoration of the victims of the government’s policies. They did not rule out an invitation for thousands of people to “lie down and sleep” on Yangde Boulevard, the road leading up to the Yangmingshan area.
Tseng said the party was making the changes to avoid dangers to public safety. Security agencies reportedly presented Ma with a report indicating problems with his safety if he wanted to appear at the congress while an estimated 100,000 protesters laid siege to the site. The KMT reportedly also received statements of concern about other events taking place in the area and from residents who feared clashes.
In addition to public dissatisfaction about numerous policies ranging from the economy to reliance with China, Ma was also facing an internal KMT power struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. After prosecutors accused the latter of influence peddling on behalf of a top opposition lawmaker, Ma tried to have him removed from the KMT, which would automatically result in the loss of his membership of the Legislative Yuan.
Wang succeeded in having a court order a stay to the revocation of his KMT membership, but the party filed an appeal which was to be heard Thursday. The presiding judge asked to be relieved of duty because of accusations her husband campaigned for Ma, but her request was turned down.
Postponing the congress could also avoid embarrassment about the speaker turning up because he was legally still a party member, reports said.
Protest leaders call on Ma to show the same determination he showed in his moves against Wang and face the public instead of hiding. The representatives of more than 43 action groups said they would wear black shirts and throw old shoes as planned for the original protest, but they would now do it on October 26 at Yangmingshan.
The groups, which include labor, farmer and student activists, said they wanted Ma to resign immediately and hold new elections accompanied by legislative elections.
If Ma thought he could avoid the crowds by hiding out in Yangmingshan, he was underestimating the anger and the intelligence of the public, farmers’ rights activists said.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Lawrence Kao said the changes showed that the KMT was moving as far away from the people as possible. While the DPP was to celebrate its 27th anniversary Saturday in Taichung close to the people, the KMT was hiding away in the mountains, showing how out of touch it was with the people of Taiwan, Kao said.
Dissatisfaction with the Ma Administration reached new heights over the past week amid the power struggle with Wang and the suspected suicide of Chang Sen-wen, the owner of one of four homes which were demolished by the KMT-led Miaoli County Government to make way for a science park.
The protest movement, named after the Dapu Village in Chunan where the homes were torn down, has included impromptu actions at public appearances by government leaders. In addition to local residents, the farmers’ movement, students and even movie directors and artists joined the struggle against land expropriations.
Ma’s popularity, which has remained below 20 percent for over a year amid widespread dissatisfaction, plunged to single figures after his statements condemning Wang.
As a result, the president has become the target of opposition plans to impeach or recall him, despite the high thresholds set by existing laws.