DPP expects thousands to rally against Ma Ying-jeou
Taiwan's opposition party expects 100,000 people to turn out today to protest against President Ma Ying-jeou and call on him to reshuffle his cabinet.
In particular, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party is demanding the resignation of Premier Sean Chen, who they blame for the weakness of the island's economy.
The DPP believes that more academics and students will take part in the rally after the ruling Kuomintang blocked the opposition's media monopoly bill. The bill could have derailed a deal to put nearly half of Taiwan's print and television operations in the hands of conglomerates perceived to have a pro-Beijing stance.
The DPP introduced the bill after the island's Next Media, owned by Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, was sold to five Taiwanese investors.
Among the buyers is China Times president Tsai Shao-Chung, son of Want Want chairman Tsai Eng-meng, who has been perceived by some as Beijing-friendly, sparking fears the deal could spell trouble for press freedom.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei told Taiwanese media yesterday that the bill was rejected because it was "immature" and "full of holes and inconsistencies".
Former DPP legislator Julian Kuo agreed that the bill was "not perfect" and needed further discussion and amendment.
"In fact, our rally is not only focused on the anti-monopoly bill, but also to push President Ma to dismiss ministers of economic affairs and council for economic planning and development, who failed to carry out any economic reform to improve our people's livelihoods over the past five years," Kuo said.
Professor Chang Ling-chen, a political scientist at National Taiwan University, said the rally would further damage Ma's poor approval ratings.
"Domestic affairs is Ma's most fatal shortcoming, even though he won much credit for his cross-strait relations policy," she said. "It's a fact that Taiwan's economy has been worsening over the past year."
Ma's approval rating hit a new low of 13 per cent last month, less than a year after winning re-election with 52 per cent of the vote, according to a survey by TVBS, a Taipei-based television network.
Additional reporting by Reuters, Bloomberg