Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-09-29 04:08 PM
The events were originally scheduled to coincide with the 19th Congress of the ruling Kuomintang, but it announced last week the meeting would be postponed and moved. A new date has not been given yet, but reports mentioned late October or November, with the site being changed from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in downtown Taipei to the Chungshan Hall in the mountainous area of Yangmingshan.
In the morning, protesters wearing white shirts walked to Ma’s official residence to hold up banners reading “Down with President Ma Ying-jeou.” The plan was to have as many people as possible mail the banners to the president. Some protesters also carried pictures of Ma doctored to make him resemble Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. “Ma is destroying democracy like Hitler,” banners read.
One prominent Taiwanese showing up at the event was Ko Wen-je, the head of the Traumatology Department at National Taiwan University Hospital who is frequently mentioned as a potential Democratic Progressive Party candidate in the December 2014 Taipei mayoral election.
“Apart from stupid, Ma is only more stupid,” Ko told the crowd. “He has now turned into the source of chaos in this country.”
About 800 police were mobilized to keep order, with barricades and nets to catch flying shoes set up to keep away the protesters.
During the afternoon, the organization of victims of factory closures invited members of the public to throw shoes at pictures of Ma, Vice President Wu Den-yih, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and other government leaders. The event took place outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, where the KMT congress was supposed to have taken place Sunday. Initially, the group had wanted to lay siege to the ruling party event, but the KMT said it moved out over fears of violence and complaints from area residents.
Protesters brought plastic barrels filled with old shoes for the event but participants could also contribute their own shoes. The organizers accused Ma of concentrating on his power struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng instead of improving the economy and finding them new jobs.
An estimated 300 participants later put on masks with the effigy of the president and held a race, symbolizing Ma running away from his people by moving the congress. The action also satirized the president’s love of jogging.
The same group continued with a memorial service to pay tribute to numerous victims of what they described as government violence, including a taxi driver who committed suicide because he saw no way out of the economic crisis.
A march by protesters wearing black shirts moved from the eastern part of town to the wide boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building during the afternoon.
The veteran media and entertainment people who organized the third anti-Ma protest event of the day said they wanted to give the common people a chance to vent their anger.
Every volunteer was given a limited amount of speaking time. In addition, the public could also write its thoughts on two “People’s Fury Walls” erected on each side of the boulevard.
Even though the rally was only scheduled to start at 6 p.m., there were already more than a hundred protesters present hours earlier, reports said. The theme song sounded from the speaker system, with lyrics such as “Replace him, Replace him, Replace the idiot.”
The main podium was flanked by banners calling on Ma to resign and admit his mistakes. Underneath, a slogan read “End the Ma Dynasty, Stop Violating the Constitution.”
Key demands of the rally included amendments to the Election and Recall Act to make recalling a president easier, Ma’s resignation as chairman of the KMT and as president, and the abolition of the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division involved in the recent influence-peddling and wiretapping scandals.
During the evening, a laser beam wrote the Chinese characters for “Step Down” on the front of the Presidential Office Building.
In addition to Taipei, protests also took place in different parts of the country. In Kaohsiung, the Southern Taiwan Society rallied about 1,000 people to throw old shoes at an effigy of Ma. At a market in Makung, the capital of Penghu County, protesters shouted that if Ma did not resign, Taiwan would not have a future.
Some protest groups said they were planning to take to the streets again on October 10, the national holiday, and on the eventual new date for the KMT congress. Since the meeting will most likely be held up in the hills outside Taipei, organizers were evaluating the possibility of having protesters lie down on the narrow road leading up to the site.
Separately, some KMT lawmakers said they would sign a letter calling on Ma to end his power struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and focus on the economy instead.
The latest wave of public dissatisfaction with the president started earlier this month when he called for Wang to be removed from party and Legislature because of influence-peddling allegations against him.
Ma’s position in the opinion polls slipped even further as a result, from the 13 percent support he received for most of the past year to a mere 9.2 percent.
In a reaction to Sunday’s protests, the Presidential Office said the government would offer legal and reasonable solutions to the issues put forward by demonstrators.