TRA leader in frequent run-ins with police

Considering Taiwan Referendum Alliance (TRA) convener Tsai Ting-kuei to be a repeat trouble maker, Taipei police have turned down the group’s application for a parade permit and informed the group that future applications would also be rejected. The decision sparked howls of protest from alliance members who claim that the police have not been fair and are not judging such applications on their own merit. Leaders of the alliance say law enforcement authorities have not given them proper consideration, and a group of protesters have surrounded the Zhongzheng Precinct Police Station on Qingdao West Road and pledged to remain until their request for a permit is granted.

Tsai Ting-kuei has been carrying out a protest vigil in the area of the Legislative Yuan since October 25, 2008. He has frequently been confronted by police for failing to apply for a permit to protest in the Legislative Yuan area. The group has maintained a presence on Jinan Road and Zhongshan South Road, and during the past five years Tsai has been cited a dozen times for violations of the parade law and twice for obstructing official business.

Captain Fang Yang-ning of the Zhongzhen Precinct Station notes that Tsai mobilized protestors on April 3, 6 and 7 during the Sunflower occupation of the Legislative Yuan to carry out disruptive actions outside the Legislative Yuan, next to the presidential residence and on Ai-guo West Road respectively. The group also interfered with several meetings held by legislators. Thus on April 9 the police rejected the alliance’s application for a parade permit on April 20 and said it would not accept any applications from the group in the future.

Police said TRA had violated provisions of the Assembly and Parade Law, saying that they presented a potential danger to national security, public order and the public welfare as described in Article 19 of the law. Ordinarily anyone whose application for a parade permit is turned down can re-apply after two days. Tsai re-applied for a permit at the Zhongzheng Precinct Station two days later and the request is being processed.

Members of the group surrounding the Zhongzheng Precinct Station criticized the attitude of the police, saying that they should handle each application on its own merit and not try to stifle the rights of protests because of some earlier problem. They compared the precinct’s rejection of applications for parade permits to "sentencing without a trial" and said, "No wonder the precinct station has been surrounded."