60,000 people demand the 'truth' at rally
TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff April 4, 2004, 12:00 am TWN
Waving national flags and shouting slogans, over 60,000 people staged yet another large-scale protest against President Chen Shui-bian in Taipei yesterday afternoon. More than 1,000 of them returned to the plaza outside the Presidential Office in the evening to push for their cause.
After half a million protesters showed up for one of the largest demonstrations at the plaza on March 27, many of them moved to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park to continue their around-the-clock protests and demand for "justice and truth" following the presidential election disputes.
The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) has warned of "endless" protests for the next four years if their demands were not met.
"We will continue to let Mr. Chen Shui-bian know that he must bow to people power," KMT Chairman Lien Chan said. "We demand the truth. We will not stop until the truth is clear."
The cheering crowd shouted back: "Return the truth to the people."
"On April 10, if we have not yet received a response, then let us gather more friends to show our unity," Lien said.
Lien's running mate — People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong — said Chen has not yet taken concrete steps to start an independent vote recount as the case is quagmired in the time-consuming legal battle.
Soong said Chen and his party still ignore the people's demand of making an independent inquiry into an election-eve assassination attempt and the improper activation of the so-called "national security mechanism" that stripped many servicemen and police officers of their constitutional right to cast their presidential ballots.
The Lien-Soong team lost the election by less than 30,000 votes out of more than 13 million cast. They claim that the Chen victory followed the shooting incident during which a bullet gashed the President in the stomach while he was campaigning on an open-top jeep in Tainan on March 19. Vice President Annette Lu was also wounded in the knee on the same vehicle.
Lien says the attack caused a swelling of sympathy votes and raised suspicions it may have been staged.
Supporters of Lien criticized Chen for taking advantage of the incident by not revealing the true condition of his slight injury in order to artificially create a suspense and win public sympathy.
They noted that Lien and Soong immediately called off all campaign activities out of concern for the condition of the President and the Vice President.
However, the campaign vehicles and underground broadcasting stations of Chen's ruling party intensified the spreading of rumors that Lien and Soong had teamed up with Beijing to carry out the assassination attempt, they complained.
They said Chen had already lost the trust of the people after he pretended to have been poisoned by KMT officials when he ran for Tainan County magistrate years ago.
The whole shooting episode on the eve of the election on March 20 was suspicious and this election was unfair, said many protesters.
They emphasized that they have no respect for the head of state and don't trust the government anymore.
Wearing headbands reading "Fight for democracy" and "Want truth", eight university students continued their hunger strike which they started last week at the gate of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park.
Wuer Kaixi, who was number two on China's list of 21 most wanted student leaders after the bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing on June 4, 1989, gave the Taiwan students his support.
"What you are doing is something remarkable," he said. He also blasted the government in Taiwan for its tight control over the media and the judicial system. He presently lives in self-exile in Taiwan.
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said the setting up of an independent investigation panel for the shooting incident does not violate the nation's Constitution as the leaders of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had insisted.