• Directory of Taiwan

Huge crowds rally for 'Formosa Sunrise'

People say they are standing up for Taiwan and defending hard won democratic system

Pro-Chen supporters tussle near a stage set u?p by a local TV station in Taipei yesterday. Protesters said the station's coverage of the recent anti-C...

Pro-Chen supporters tussle near a stage set u?p by a local TV station in Taipei yesterday. Protesters said the station's coverage of the recent anti-C...

An estimated 150,000 people crowded into Ketegalan Boulevard and Chungshan South Road to "stand up for Taiwan" yesterday afternoon in a "Love, Hope and Formosa Sunrise" rally sponsored by the pro-independence Taiwan Society and backed by the governing Democratic Progressive Party.
Taiwan Society Secretary-General Yang Wen-chia (楊文嘉) was greeted with thunderous applause when he announced at the end of the rally at 6:00 p.m. that 150,000 persons had taken part in the event.
The massive assembly took place only hours after over 300,000 red-shirted demonstrators of the campaign initiated by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to depose President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on allegations of corruption ended a week-long occupation of Ketegalan Boulevard by marching through the center of the capital city Friday evening in a "surround the citadel" march shouting "Down with Chen."
Although yesterday's rally was described by many media as a move to "support Chen," most speakers and many participants stressed that their intention was to primarily to "Support Taiwan" and "defend democracy" instead of simply giving a confidence boost to the beleaguered DPP president.
In contrast to the predominance of red shirts in the "Depose Chen" sit-in and march, the participants at yesterday's "Formosa Sunlight" event were attired in all colors, with the noticeable exception of red.
President Chen did not attend the rally, but was represented by Presidential Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) Tang-shan (陳唐山), whose appearance along with 16 Cabinet officials singing the Taiwanese song "The Name of My Mother" with the audience, sparked an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd that waved DPP and "Taiwan" flags and shouted "Go Taiwan!"
The presidential chief-of-staff said that Chen had asked him to greet the supporters because the president had just returned from a ceremony to open a family care center in Penghu and could not attend the rally in person.
Relating that it had taken him 25 minutes to get through the rally to the stage from the Office of the President, the presidential secretary-general said the mass attendance showed that "your love of Taiwan is no less than anyone else."
Chen stated that the Taiwan people had fought hundreds of years for a sustainable democratic system and that President Chen had vowed that he will safeguard Taiwan's democratic system no matter how big the sacrifices."
"The president will never allow anyone using means outside the institutional framework or foreign forces to break the system," the presidential chief-of-staff said.
Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, who cut short a visit to the United States to return to Taipei to attend the rally, told the crowd that "the rule of law is the basis of democracy and we must respect the results of the investigation of the judicial branch."
"Whether the president steps down or not, we cannot violate the constitutional system and only by realizing the rule of law can we consolidate democracy," Yu stated.
"Taiwan is a democratic country in which its citizens enjoy the freedom of expression thanks to the efforts of many pioneers," Yu said.
While insisting that the DPP respects the different views held by everyone in society, Yu stressed that the "integration of different views" must take place with "law as the standard."
Yu reaffirmed that the DPP was opposed to any demands which called for the president to resign in a manner that would transgress the Constitution.
"Whether the president resigns should be decided based on law and decided by votes and not by comparing whose fists are bigger," stated Yu, who concluded by calling out, "Taiwan should stand up!"
Members of the Taiwan Herald Society, a media reform group under the Taiwan Society, held up placards calling for the participants to "refuse to watch TVBS and Chung Tien" cable television stations and urging workers at the two stations to "go on strike."
Referring to the sit-in protests, Taiwan Society Chairman Wu Shu-min told the crowd that "the Chinese have made a lot of noise in the past few weeks and now it is the turn of the Taiwan people to express their voices."
Besides political speeches and skits, the rally featured singing by a variety of vocal artists, including Robin Dale singing "Formosa Lily," folk singer Chen Ming-chang with "Hello Formosa" and "Our Precious Taiwan," and Huang Kuo-lung, who sang the event's theme song of "Heavenly Light."
Huang, who wrote the song inspired by Shih's "love and tolerance" after meeting the 25-year political prisoner in the 1990s, said he had used the song to "console" victims of the September 21, 1999 earthquake that killed over 2,000 people in Taiwan.
Huang said he respected different views in democratic society and social movements, but expressed worry over Shih's use of the "Depose Chen" banner to "engage in a fight to the death" with the president.
Relating that reporters had asked him whether his appearance at the rally showed "support for corruption," Huang declared that "I hate corruption from the bottom of my heart, but I hate how Taiwan has been rent in half by ruthless politics."
"I do not intend to use this song to attack chairman Shih or to divide people into 'anti-Chen' and 'pro-Chen,' but want to contribute this song to console Taiwan and the many people who are in pain and need comforting, regardless of 'color,' and give real right to Taiwan," Huang said.
DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin told the Taiwan News that the "Depose Chen" demonstrations were "simply too excessive" and stated that "our country needs to return to the fundamentals."
"Everyone is here to stand up and show our society, the media and the 'Depose Chen' people that their views are not the only views in the country," Tien stated.
"If we want to mutually respect each other, we need an overall arbiter and that is the judicial system," stated the DPP legislator.
Tien cautioned that actions by the "Depose Chen" movement, such as a letter campaign aimed at the chief prosecutor for the investigation of Chen's handling of receipts for state affairs funds, threatened to undermine the credibility of the investigation.
"If Prosecutor Chen Jui-jen (陳瑞仁) decides to indict the president, many people will wonder whether he issued the indictment due to evidence or because you could not bear the pressure," said Tien.
The general atmosphere of the rally was peaceful and relaxed, with recurrent shouting of slogans such as "Support Taiwan" and "Stand up for Taiwan" and group singing of "Our Precious Taiwan," which was a theme song for the "Hand in Hand to Protect Taiwan" island - long human chain formed on February 28, 2004.