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Ex-President Ma Ying-jeou refuses to attend National Day event

10/02/2023 05:34 PM
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The 2023 design of the Oct. 10 National Day graphic. CNA file photo
The 2023 design of the Oct. 10 National Day graphic. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 2 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) announced on Monday that he would not attend this year's Oct. 10 National Day ceremony hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in front of the Presidential Office Building, due to the government's decision to call the event "Taiwan National Day."

In a social media post, Ma expressed his sadness at having to make this decision. He cited his firm refusal to endorse the Tsai administration's scheme of changing the event's name from the "Republic of China (ROC) National Day" to "Taiwan National Day."

"Over the past 40 years, I have always taken pride in participating in the annual ceremony continuously, regardless of whether I was serving in the public or private sector, out of wholehearted love of the ROC and its constitution that brings peace and stability for all of us," Ma wrote.

"However, I won't take part in this year's event with 'ROC National Day' being changed to 'Taiwan National Day,'" he stressed.

Ma questioned "when was the name of our nation changed from the Republic of China into Taiwan?" "The Republic of China is gone."

The move was tantamount to a plot to advocate for Taiwan independence sentiment, which goes against the fundamental principles of the ROC Constitution, Ma contended.

He also criticized Tsai for breaking her promises that she would act in compliance of the constitution when she assumed the presidency in 2016 and 2020.

Ma said he felt disillusioned that Tsai would make such a harmful move to the ROC during her last National Day ceremony before bowing out next year.

The 2021 design of the Oct. 10 National Day graphic. Photo courtesy of General Association of Chinese Culture
The 2021 design of the Oct. 10 National Day graphic. Photo courtesy of General Association of Chinese Culture

Noting that he had last year advised the Tsai administration and the ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP) to drop the idea of using "Taiwan National Day" in this year's event, Ma said now that the advice was being totally ignored, he had decided not to take part in the upcoming National Day celebration.

He believed his appearance at the central government event would mean his endorsement of the "Taiwan independence" approach and his indifference to the DPP government's damage to Taiwan security and the ROC.

"For the sake of Taiwan's safety and the well-being of younger generations, the silent majority must show clear-cut resolve to oppose the Taiwan independence stance," the former president said.

In response to Ma's declaration, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃), who was responsible for organizing the National Day celebrations, stated that an invitation had been extended to Ma, and he respected Ma's decision.

While some DPP lawmakers welcomed Ma, a member of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), to attend the ceremony and show unity, DPP legislative caucus whip Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said the key visual design of National Day celebrations has shifted away from the ROC since 2013 during Ma's presidency.

He wondered why no one said something about that change back then, Chuang said.

An annual archway for the Oct. 10 National Day is set up in front of the Presidential Office in 2019. File photo courtesy of National Day celebrations organizing committee
An annual archway for the Oct. 10 National Day is set up in front of the Presidential Office in 2019. File photo courtesy of National Day celebrations organizing committee

The English term "Taiwan National Day" was not officially used, however, until 2021, and Ma protested the language last year. At the same time, the "Republic of China" has remained part of the official name of the National Day event in Chinese.

The actual day of the event commemorates the 1911 Wuchang Uprising in China, which led to the overthrow of China's last imperial dynasty and the establishment of the ROC.

Chuang said the celebrations provide a good occasion for all political forces to display solidarity, urging the KMT to act as an opposition party loyal to Taiwan and its people.

Citing the results of a United Daily News poll published Monday, which found that people in Taiwan believed the Taiwan independence movement to be the biggest variable in cross-Taiwan Strait relations, Chuang contended that the biggest variable was actually "China's attempt to achieve unification with Taiwan by force."

It is imperative that the two sides talk, but without preconditions such as "Taiwan is part of China" or "one country, two systems," he said.

(By Flor Wang and Wang Cheng-chung)

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Workers build the National Day archway in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei on Oct. 1, 2015. CNA file photo
Workers build the National Day archway in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei on Oct. 1, 2015. CNA file photo
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