With only six days to go until Taiwan's Presidential Election both the DPP and KMT held rallies all over Taiwan today. I attended the DPP's rally at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Masses of people converged on the area as the KMT was holding a rally at the Songshan Tobacco Factory just across the road. I haven't seen any estimates of crowd numbers, but it would definitely have been in the tens of thousands if not more.
Freddy Lim, director of the DPP's youth campaign gives the number one sign to the crowd. His speech really fired up the crowd and he then led the chant of 逆轉勝 (nìzhuǎn shèng). He also sang the song that the DPP has been using in its campaign. I am sure the video of Freddy singing with Taipei 101 in the background will look great.
Just before three o'clock Frank Hsieh arrived and made his way through the crowd. There was a huge scrum of security, media and supporters around him. The only photo of him I managed to capture was of the back of his head. Frank Hsieh gave a speech before the march started at the symbolic time of 3:14. 314 represents 14 March, the day in 2005 that the Chinese government enacted the Anti-Secession Law.
Leaving Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall I encountered a small group protesting about the current situation in Tibet. I had specially worn my t-shirt with a Tibetan prayer written on it to keep the people of Tibet in my mind. I am sure the crowd would have all been very sympathetic to their cause. In the week since I joined the Free Tibet march in Taipei, the situation in Tibet has suddenly exploded into violence. There are certain to be strong calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics now. People in Taiwan should reflect on how fortunate they are to be able to freely express their beliefs without the threat of violence.
The huge crowd spilled out of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and on to Ren'ai Road. The people of Taiwan will go to the polls on next Saturday the 22nd of March. I have a feeling the result will be very close.
*more photos in the 316 DPP rally photoset at flickr.