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More signs of one party state creeping back in Taiwan

17/10/2008

 

Ma really seems to be bringing dictatorship back in Taiwan and Taiwanese may have to say goodbye to the freedom developed over the past 20 years and revert back to the martial law period.

 

Taipei City Government banned any assembly and demonstration outside the Presidential Office between 1st September and 13th October. They claimed that they did this to facilitate the preparation for the Double Ten Day celebration. However, this was not the usual practice. Therefore, some people suspect that they were making sure that there would be no protests around this area to disrupt the Double Tens Day or even the Chinese official, Chen, Yun-lin’s visit (his dates of visit was not decided but said to be around October). The KMT was probably worried that they were going to have a taste of their own medicine, seeing how their MPs and supporters always got invited by the DPP to attend but staged a protest in one of the Double Ten Days when DPP was in power.

 

From 1st October, World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI) started the ‘one person protest’[1], which got quite a lot of support from non-members as well. Supporters simply took a walk outside the Presidential Office individually, wearing a T-shirt with the motto: ‘Ma, stop selling out Taiwan (with the word ‘Ma’ upside down)’. They were never parading as a group and, in fact, never walked with more than 2 people so that they did not violate the law (no more than 3 people and over 1-1.5 meters distance between them)[2]. All they did was walking around Ketagalan Avenue and the Presidential Office. This obviously got the authority’s attention because the number of police got larger and larger by the day. This was a huge contrast to the police intervention (or the lack of it) during the Red-Shirt Army protest against Chen in 2006.

 

On 10th October, everyone who would express a view against Ma Ying-jeou and his government was prevented from going nearer the Presidential Office and were certainly not allowed around the celebration of the ‘country’s birthday’.[3] Furthermore, none of the DPP figures or MPs were invited to attend the celebration[4]. Even though 10th October is not supposed to be the country’s birthday because it was the ROC’s birth date when Taiwan was actually under the Japanese rule and Chang, Kai-shek’s ROC is not the legitimate government of Taiwan (they occupied Taiwan 1945 on the Allies’ behalf, not as a legitimate ruler of Taiwan) but if Ma is as inclusive as he has claimed, he should have made sure that everyone got invited regardless. If the DPP didn’t want to attend, that would have been their choice but they should have been given an invitation to consider. The most outrageous was that Su, An-Sheng, a man who have no significant contributions but physically assaulted Former President Chen and a former ambassador to Japan was invited to attend and sat in the VIP area.[5] The fact that Su was never charged with those offences and his attendance at the Double Tens Day celebration as a guest showed Ma’s approval for his violent attacks on pan-Green figures. He was made a hero by all the pro-China media for his physical attack on Chen.

 

On 11th October, the number of police on Ketagalan Ave. was already larger than the number of individuals walking around in that T-shirt.[6]

 

At 9:02, four policemen stopped a man (One of the WUFI directors, Wu, Ting-ho) who wore that T-shirt and told him to leave. He asked why and the police replied ‘because you are wearing that T-shirt’.

 

 

Wu immediately took off the T-shirt and wanted to carry on walking. The policeman said to him ‘No. You can’t!’ and them told his colleagues ‘Arrest him!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CNA reported on 14th October that the police argued Wu’s action was illegal and lied to the public that they had shown a sign of warning before the arrest[7].  

 

A middle aged couple was also stopped and manhandled by the police. The police said that they were expressing a clear view and therefore would be illegal without getting permission first. A middle aged/elderly woman passed out when the police dragged her away. Even those who didn’t wear that T-shirt got in trouble with the police. Please see the following clip.

 

 

 

As Ma’s government are interfering with freedom of press and freedom of speech, they are procuring a surveillance system that can monitor 300 phone calls from a car. This has caused concerns about illegal phone tapping.[8] Now the police can confront people what they wear and where they walk as well. It is getting really worrying.

 


 

[2] In Taiwan, people need ‘permission’ from the police to assemble and protest. Informing the police is not enough. Permission has to be granted if there’s a group of people (even if there were only 3 or 5).

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