Thursday, March 13, 2008

trouble at DPP Taipei campaign hq

Elections in Taiwan may be heated affairs, but are normally free from violence.

So the clashes at the DPP’s Taipei campaign headquarters on Wednesday night are having wider repercussions.

Finance minister, Ho Chih-Chin, resigned. "It (the scuffle) has caused unease in society," he said. I'm deeply sorry." The KMT's presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, has issued public apologies, as has the KMT chairman, and one of the legislators involved stepped down as KMT caucus whip.

So what happened?

The minister had accompanied several legislators from the opposition KMT to the DPP headquarters. They had alleged the building – owned by a bank which was supervised by the finance ministry - was being unlawfully occupied, claiming little or no rent was being paid.

After gaining access, they were blocked from leaving. clashes then broke out and riot police were called in.

The DPP has strongly condemned the incident; while the KMT’s presidential candidate, Ma Ying-Jeou, apologized and condemned the violence – although his aides made clear his campaign team had no prior knowledge of the event. Alex Fai, one of the KMT legislators involved in the incident also apologized and resigned as party whip.

While Ma's camp are denying any connection to the event and the legislators' actions, clearly, its highly embarrassing - and possibly damaging. The DPP campaign has highlighted the threats, as they see it, of a KMT dominated legislature and presidency. This is perfect ammunition for them to underscore their point.

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