Alexa

National Day celebrations still on track

National Day celebrations still on track

There is no truth to a newspaper report that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had asked his aides to convey a request to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) last week to cancel the upcoming Double Tenth National Day celebrations in consideration of a scheduled protest by his opponents, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
Presidential Office spokesman David Lee said that a meeting between the president's top aide and Wang last week was aimed at deciding whether National Day celebrations would take place as scheduled, and that the aide had not received any instructions from Chen on the matter before the meeting, as the China Times reported.
"The main purpose of Chen's meeting with Wang last week was to figure out whether National Day cerebrations would take place as scheduled," Lee told reporters.
Presidential Secretary General Mark Chen (陳唐山) merely asked Wang, who heads the National Day celebrations committee, to carefully consider the nation's image and make sure it would not be tarnished, Lee said.
Awkward position?
According to the China Times report, Wang was placed in an awkward position because of Chen's request to call off the celebrations in view of plans by former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to lead thousands of protesters to surround the Presidential Office on October 10.
The report claimed that Chen was deeply worried that the demonstration would get of hand and violence would break out.
But Lee reiterated that President Chen did not propose via his aide or DPP chairman Yu shui-kun that the celebrations should be canceled.
"The Presidential Office will respect Wang and his committee's opinions on the matter," Lee said.
The news report claimed that Wang was in a dilemma not only because of President Chen's proposition, but also because of a similar view expressed by former Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan (連?) during a meeting between Lien and Wang last Wednesday.
Last Thursday Wang said that he had visited Lien the day before to seek his opinion on the issue.
"Lien and I agreed that we should happily celebrate National Day and that those who want to express their personal opposition to the president can speak up in public after the celebrations," Wang said Thursday.
The legislative speaker also met with officials from national security, the police and intelligence that same day to get their assessment of the situation.
Wang said that the officials advised him to call off the celebrations, but the preparatory committee decided to proceed as in previous years after Shih's campaign assured him that protesters would not interrupt the ceremony, even though they have vowed to surround the Presidential Office so that Chen could "go nowhere" on National Day.
Yesterday, Wang dismissed the China Times report, saying that "there is no dilemma. I am doing what I must do."
He said his basic stance on the matter is that the celebrations should only be called off as a last resort.
He did, however, give a reminder that it is his committee and the police department's duty to ensure that the National Day celebrations are a success.
"Everyone is responsible for making the ceremony successful and safe," Wang said.