President talks economy while protests continue at flag-raising
By Enru Lin ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- At the national flag-raising ceremony yesterday President Ma Ying-jeou discussed only the economy, as some 1,500 students continued their protest against a “media monopoly.”
January 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Ma marked the Republic of China's 102nd anniversary on Tuesday with the annual ceremonial flag-raising at Ketagalan Boulevard.
Meanwhile, the Youth Alliance Against the Media Monster (反媒體巨獸青年聯盟) rallied just meters down the boulevard, near Jingfu Gate (景福門).
Students arrived at 4:30 a.m., after their overnight protest at Liberty Square. The alliance said 1,500 students from over 30 Taiwan universities attended the protest at Ketagalan Boulevard.
Backed by the opposition party, the student group called on Ma to face up to what they consider national security risks created by a possible merger between Want Want China Times Group and Next Media.
Ma Talks Economy
At the flag-raising yesterday, Ma kept his brief remarks focused on Taiwan's economic prospects in 2013.
Addressing a crowd comprising public officials, members of the public and student protestors, Ma said that he has kept his inauguration speech pledge.
Ma said that during his May 20, 2012 inauguration, he promised reforms for a prosperous Taiwan. “To this day, my administrative team and I have yet to stray from our goal of making the people prosperous.”
But goals are realized through actions and actions can become setbacks, he said, adding that the key is to maintain morale and redouble efforts even in the face of these setbacks.
Ma gave a nod to two hot-air balloons, new additions to this year's program. The balloons were inflated and released at the boulevard, bearing banners that read “prosperous Taiwan” (民富國強) and “Taiwan up” (台灣向上).
The balloons are delivering Taiwan's hopes and the government's promises to the sky, said Ma.
“I believe our happiness index and economic growth will rise higher just like these balloons,” he said, adding that he has confidence in Taiwan's strengths and the wisdom of its people.
Tight Security, No Chow
Besides balloons, Tuesday's ceremony saw upgraded security, including extra units from the Military Police Special Service Company (憲兵特勤隊) who were supported by 40 infrared-capable digital video recorders.
The ceremony also featured the prize-winning tug-of-war team of Taipei Jingmei Girls High School (景美女中) leading the national anthem.
Ma was joined by Vice President Wu Den-yih, but not first lady Christine Chow, who has attended past flag-raisings. Other guests included Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Premier Sean Chen and his wife Ko Chang-chu (柯長珠).
After Ma's remarks, the anti-media monopoly group began shouting slogans.
The president's failure to address the perceived monopolization of the media in his ceremonial address is disappointing, said Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), a National Taiwan University student and alliance convener.
Lin told reporters that the students' goal had been to express their request for attention in “the most peaceful, rational manner.” It is regretful that the president has no opinion on Taiwan's media crisis, he said.
“We don't necessarily know all the answers, but we know that without exhaustive effort, we will forever be mired in deep mud. Our country is nearing a crisis, and Taiwan's democracy is about to go under,” the group stated in a press release later Tuesday morning.