Tens of thousands of people yesterday rallied on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei to oppose amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) passed last month.
Protesters shouted “Democracy is dead” and “Give me back the referendum” at the rally, which was organized by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Many attendees waved Republic of China (ROC) flags or banners expressing support for former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu, (朱立倫), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) or Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), contenders in the party’s presidential primary.
The KMT said that “tens of thousands” attended the event.
To maintain order and control traffic, 320 police officers were dispatched to the area.
Democracy and freedom are the most important of Taiwan’s values, but the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has taken away referendums because it did not like last year’s results, Chu told the crowd, referring to referendums held alongside the local elections in November.
After the KMT unveils the result of its primary poll on Monday next week, “we will have only one goal: Working together,” he said.
“No one should be allowed to run for president against party regulations and betray the party’s democratic mechanisms,” he said.
The DPP should be renamed the “Democratic Backward Party,” as it has turned the act back into the “birdcage act” it was once known as and is promoting authoritarianism, Gou said.
If elected president, he would fight corruption, improve the nation’s economy and “make Taiwan great again,” he said.
With President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to visit the US this month, Gou said he prepared a baseball cap embroidered with her name and an ROC flag for her to wear on the trip.
If Tsai refuses the gift, that would mean that the ROC has no weight in her heart, he said.
“We do not need a president like that,” he said.
Han urged people to “understand the position we are in.”
Taiwanese should have their feet on democracy and freedom, their hands reached out to the world, while being sympathetic and highly aware that hard work is essential given the nation’s limited natural resources, Han said.
“It is the task of our generation to ensure that people have a good life, that Taiwan remains safe and the people have money,” he said.
KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) urged attendees to “only vote for [pan-]blue [camp] candidates,” saying that only the KMT can protect the ROC and people’s rights.
All of the KMT’s presidential primary candidates are brilliant and the party must rally behind the winner of the primary, he said.
Before going on stage, Gou said that Wu had rejected his suggestion to have the candidates sign a pledge on stage to not run for president if they lose the primary.
When asked to comment on the proposal — and the fact that Gou is the only contender to not sign a party contract on the same issue — Han said that he has done his best to meet the KMT’s requirements.
“If other people have a different approach, it is the party’s responsibility to do something,” Han told reporters backstage.
The KMT’s primary poll is scheduled to begin today and end on Sunday.
Additional reporting by CNA