Protesters to gather for ‘Occupy Taipei 101’

The China Post news staff

An unspecified number of protesters will gather around the Taipei 101 Financial Tower at 10 a.m. today to rally against the widening wealth gap, as part of the Taiwanese counterpart of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States, which has spread to various nations across the globe. Some labor union groups said they have rallied for support for the siege of Taipei 101, which they view as a symbol of capitalists. They plan to first gather at a plaza on Songzhi Road in the Xinyi Commercial District to discuss plans and express views about the unequal wealth distribution in Taiwan. While most people’s incomes have remained unchanged for many years, rich people have thronged Taipei 101 to shop for luxury jewelry, foreign products and enjoy expensive foods day and night, they said. Organizers of the protest, titled “October 15 Taking Over Taipei” (十月十五日佔領台北活動) said they have received support — “likes,” from 5,000 people on Facebook – but they were not certain of the size of the crowd that would actually show up. Their estimates range from hundreds to thousands of participants. While store managers voiced concern over the disruptiveness of the Taipei 101 siege, the managing executives of Taipei 101 said they had informed the police about the potential protest, claiming that it would possibly undermine business activities. The situation could easily get out of hand as, in addition to the shoppers, crowds will be flooding the area for the furniture exhibition at the Taipei World Trade Center, Liu Chia-hao (劉家豪), spokesperson of Taipei 101, pointed out. As of yesterday, the Taipei police claimed to have not yet received any formal applications for public activities around Taipei 101. However, they have decided to dispatch more police officers to the Taipei 101 area and closely monitor the situation, and prosecutors will also be on call.

If any violence or illegal activities are detected, the police will immediately expel the crowds, and those arrested could be charged up to NT$30,000 for violating acts regarding rallying.

Labor leaders proposed that the event would be meaningful, in that it will serve as a reminder for the government and election candidates to take a more serious look into the lopsided distribution of wealth in Taiwan.

Some scholars and observers acknowledged that the increasingly uneven wealth distribution indeed is a serious problem in Taiwan, but they also pointed out that due to less severe unemployment problems in Taiwan, the planned protest might be “less successful,” in that the size of the crowd is difficult to be estimated.