Accusations fly over white paint throwing incident (Update)
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-30 04:14 PM
As President Ma Ying-jeou’s 737 winged its way across the Pacific on his way to Panama Sunday, part of the turbulence left in its wake came from remarks Ma made to reporters on the plane. Speaking about the protests at Sizihwan in Kaohsiung, where demonstrators splashed white paint and loosed cascades of joss paper on Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun and the security detail surrounding him, Ma attempted to put some of the blame on the Kaohsiung City Government for selecting Sizihwan as the site of a meeting between Zhang and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Director Wang Yu-chi.

White is associated with death and is a symbol of mourning in Chinese culture, while joss money is burned as an offering to departed ancestors.

DPP legislator Tuan Yi-kang lashed out at Ma and his remarks Monday morning, noting that MAC Vice Chairman Chang Hsien-yao made it very clear during interpellation in the Legislative Yuan Monday that the Sizihwan site had been chosen by the MAC and not by the Kaohsiung City Government. Tuan added that the city government had voiced its objections to the site several times but MAC was adamant in opting for Sizihwan for the Wang-Zhang meeting.

Tuan went to his Facebook page to accuse Ma of “lying to the high heavens,” saying the president’s plane should turn around immediately and return to Taiwan so that Ma could make an apology to the Taiwanese people.

MAC Director of Law and Politics Yeh Ning-tseh explained to legislators that the city government did indeed express doubts about security at the site, and asked the National Police Agency and the Kaohsiung City Police Chief to deploy an additional 40 police officers to the scene to help maintain order.

DPP Legislator Li Kun-tseh chimed in, noting that the city government had tried several times to change the venue. "Even the monkeys on Kaohsiung’s Chaishan Mountain don’t go [to Sizihwan],” said Li, “yet MAC insisted on holding the meeting there!"

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng was a bit more diplomatic on the subject. Following MAC Vice Chairman Chang Hsien-yao’s appearance in the legislative hall, Wang recalled Zhang Zhi-yun’s statement Sunday after returning to Beijing that he had heard “many voices in Taiwan” during his trip to the island. Wang admitted that he was not certain who the protesters splashing paint and tossing joss money in Sizihwan were, but as he put it, they were “one of the various voices that Zhang heard during his visit.”

The President’s Office later issued a clarification of Ma Ying-jeou’s remarks. The statement acknowledged that the venue for the meeting between Zhang Zhijun and Wang Yu-chi had indeed been chosen by the MAC. It added that President Ma hoped that no blame would be assessed against the police involved in the incident.

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