Friday, April 04, 2014

Gangsters ‘just passing through’

Double standards over a protest organized by a wanted pro-unification criminal once again raise questions about government complicity

In the two years that I’ve covered social activism in Taiwan, I have lost count of the number of times when students, academics and even the elderly were pushed, handcuffed, dragged away and taken to the police station for violating the authoritarian-era Assembly and Parade Act, which makes it “illegal” for a group of people to gather and protest in public spaces without obtaining the prior approval of the authorities.

So I’m a bit confused when the Taipei City Government tells us on April 4 that gangster Chang An-le did not break the law during an April 1 protest near the Legislative Yuan because he was just “passing through.” How the ex-convict, who is currently on bail, could have just been “passing through” when the day before he had announced he would mobilize 2,000 protesters to “retake” the legislature, occupied by the Sunflower Movement since March 18, stretches credulity.

But then again, everything about Chang, aka “White Wolf” since his return has left observers scratching their heads; on Taiwan’s most-wanted list since he absconded in 1996, Chang has been a free man, free to appear on TV, to cultivate support with money, open campaign offices for his pro-unification party, and to threaten people left and right.

He and his retinue of betel nut-chewing thugs I would not trust my cat with were just passing through. And in the process they managed to clash with police on several occasions and to snatch a few protesters from the other wide, who they beat to a pulp amid screams of “Kill him! Kill him!”

It’s a good thing Chang was only “passing through.” One can only imagine what would have happened had he been there for real. Once again, the government has a lot of explaining to do. A violent man heading an organization that is clearly doing Beijing’s work in Taiwan, who should be in court if not behind bars, appears to be receiving special protection from the state. (Photo by the author)

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