Plaza the perfect place to make a song and dance about beliefs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 12:00am

Taiwan's newest - and perhaps largest - karaoke venue lets people literally sing out in protest.

The plaza outside the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a police-sanctioned protest zone set up by the opposition after demonstrators were forced to leave the area near the Presidential Office at the weekend.

The plaza is equipped with dozens of large speakers and a makeshift stage made from a converted campaign truck. Some people take the stage to shout slogans and deliver angry speeches, but others use the venue to test their vocal chords in a more creative way.

With no apparent organisers, anyone willing has been able to take the microphone for their 15 minutes of fame in front of a crowd that can number in the thousands.

Late Sunday night, a trio of teenagers backed by their thumping ghetto-blaster stereo rapped out their song Recount Recount to a dancing crowd of about 500.

Yesterday morning, an elderly woman sang the patriotic song Being United is Our Power, with the crowd waving flags and singing the chorus.

Even media personalities have joined the act, with independent legislator Sissy Chen hosting her popular prime-time television talk show at the plaza.

The crowd does not seem to mind how badly you sing, but they are unforgiving about what you sing. Several people who dared to air viewpoints contrary to those of the partisan crowd have been chased off the stage and have left the area under police protection.

Yesterday, an elderly man who claimed to be a retired air force pilot got the crowd dancing when he sang five patriotic songs about the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name.

But the audience's joy turned to rage when the man sang the anthem of the People's Republic of China.