TAIWAN: Action, not words: agitators damage office of Emily Lau

Members of Taiwan's pro-democracy camp are threatened by hostile, anti-China demonstrators

Taipei Times
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

An unknown person or persons set fire to a pro-democracy poster on the wall of an opposition legislator's office early yesterday and left the threatening message, "All Chinese traitors must die."

The legislator, Emily Lau, said that political foes were trying to threaten her in the run-up to a planned July 1 anti-Beijing rally that could draw hundreds of thousands of protesters.

"Previously it was just mean talk, now it's action," Lau said.

The incident follows a recent decision by three Hong Kong radio hosts to go off the air amid allegations they were intimidated for their pro-democracy views.

At the scene of the fire, TV footage showed the slogan -- scrawled on the wall -- about "Chinese traitors," which is how Beijing has in the past characterized some pro-democracy figures here.

No one was hurt, but firefighters found a bottle of alcohol and a gas canister at the scene and asked police to investigate.

Police spokeswoman Kelly Chan said that no arrests were immediately made.

Lau said the burnt poster had advertised the July 1 mass march, organized to call for full democracy in Hong Kong despite Beijing's decision earlier this year that ruled out ordinary people choosing their next leader in 2007 and all lawmakers in 2008.

Hong Kong's debate over democracy has since turned acrimonious, with Beijing stepping up its verbal attacks on a number of pro-democracy figures.

The territory's unpopular leader, Tung Chee-hwa, met with pro-democracy lawmakers and lawyers last week in an attempt to soothe public anger ahead of the upcoming rally -- scheduled for the anniversary of a march by 500,000 people that stunned Beijing and forced Tung to withdraw an anti-subversion bill many here viewed as a threat to freedom.

An official with China's liaison office here, Wang Rudeng, on Sunday attacked the upcoming march as a "combative" move by the territory's pro-democracy camp.

"Any talk of harmony is an illusion," Lau said yesterday.

Separately, about 20 activists protested outside the liaison office yesterday with demands that China release SARS whistleblower Jiang Yanyong, a military doctor who rose to fame by saying China's SARS outbreak last year was larger than officially acknowledged.