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Ma chided Hau to fulfill duties: KMT official

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not only exchanged opinions over setting up a restricted zone around Ketagalan Boulevard, but also spoke about recent statements made by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) that led to significant speculation, a member of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) said.

According to Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強), Ma invited Hau to the Presidential Office to discuss how to strengthen security around the Presidential Office on the night on Feb. 19. It was reported that the meeting lasted for 90 minutes, leading many to speculate on what other issues the leaders may have discussed.

It was reported that they did talk over other issues, including raising the basic salary of Taipei City Government staff, as well as current events. Although Hau and Ma reportedly did not talk about the upcoming elections, the KMT source said the meeting was a soft way for President Ma to remind Hau to fulfill his responsibilities as Taipei mayor.

However, officials were mum on the KMT member's theory.

Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏) said yesterday that Ma met with Hau because the Taipei City Government is responsible for the area around the Presidential Office. Therefore, Ma hopes that the Taipei City Government can offer a plan to strengthen security on Ketagalan Boulevard. President Ma will also welcome plans that do not completely restrict the area surrounding the office, said Li.

In addition, Li also pointed out that if the Taipei City Government calls for a control area after deliberation, the Presidential Office will come up with a plan which will minimize the disruption to traffic.

The issue of enhanced security around the Presidential Office was brought about by the Jan. 25 incident in which a man rammed a gravel truck into the gates of the office. In order to solve the issue, the Presidential Office proposed to close the nearby area and set up a restricted zone on Ketagalan Boulevard. However, this proposal had been criticized by Hau, saying that it might harm Taiwan's image of democracy and freedom.

Hau's Response

Hau said yesterday that he and the president had exchanged opinions over the security issue in the meeting that night. The president will make his decision before Feb. 25, Hau said to members of the media.

“Ketagalan Boulevard is a symbol of democracy and freedom in Taiwan. Therefore, I felt it is not a good choice to restrict the area. I expressed this opinion to President Ma at the meeting,” Hau stated.

Hau also emphasized that the Presidential Office is sometimes open to citizens to visit, which also builds up a friendly image to the people.

However, Hau said the Taipei City Government will respect whatever decision is made and he will follow the instructions of the President Office.

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