Members of the Concentric Patriotism Association of the ROC outside Songshan Airport, 4 July 2008
At the recent activities for the Tibetan Freedom Torch in Taiwan I noted the presence of the Concentric Patriotism Association of the ROC (中華愛國同心會) outside the gates of the Songshan Airport. The police seemed to take great efforts to keep the Tibet supporters apart from them. At the time I was concerned that the police were being a little too harsh on the Tibet supporters. However, I later received an e-mail from Tim Maddog informing me that the Patriotism Association was dangerous and violent. Tim had previously seen them at Freedom Square (自由廣場) in Taipei with signs and imagery promoting violence against Chen Shui-bian who was at that time the president.
I was shocked to read today that a member of this group had kicked former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as he entered the Taipei District Court yesterday. This was not the first time a member of this group had engaged in violence. In 2003 they attacked Chinese dissident Cao Chang-ching (曹長青) after he gave a speech in Taipei. The Taiwan News (see link below) notes this latest incident is the third time members of this group have assaulted DPP politicians.
The Patriotism Association of the ROC is obviously a lunatic fringe group that most KMT supporters would actively distance themselves from. While the KMT and pan-blue camp cannot be held directly responsible for their actions, they must acknowledge that their continual attempts to promote hatred of Chen Shui-bian while he was in office have had negative impacts on political life in Taiwan.
The Taiwan News has an editorial today titled Ma must condemn Pan-blue violence.
The root of these attacks lies both in the accumulated years of emotionally charged verbal attacks against the DPP politician by pan-KMT opponents, primarily because Chen’s electoral victories in March 2000 and March 2004 threatened and then realized the transfer of power from the KMT after nearly 55 years of authoritarian and one-party power.
In the wake of these victories, Chen has been incessantly criticized for countless “crimes and misdemeanors,” including unproven charges of corruption and, as in this case, “slander” for highlighting official malfeasance by formerly powerful KMT generals in the massive scandal over the massive Lafayette frigate procurement.
During the past few years, numerous pan-KMT politicians have threatened violence against Chen, even though threatening the life of the president verbally or in writing is patently illegal.
I sincerely hope that President Ma Ying-jeou makes a clear and unequivocal statement condemning these attacks and helps restore some dignity to the level of political discourse in Taiwan. I also hope the police use the full force of the law to prosecute the perpetrator of this attack and ensure that a similar incident doesn’t occur again.
Update 2: Assault on Chen highlights vulnerability, Taipei Times, 29 July 2008.
Update 3: Postcard threatens Chen, DPP with violence, Taipei Times, 3 August 2008.
Update 4: Accountability for violence, Taipei Times, 5 August 2008.