President Tsai sings anthem at New Year’s Day flag-hoisting ceremony

President Tsai Ing-wen attends the New Year’s flag-raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Office on the morning of Jan. 1. Unlike last year, she sang the anthem, before waving to the crowd along with Vice President Chen Chien-jen. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) sang the national anthem with government officials and a gathered crowd at the New Year’s flag-raising ceremony in front of the Presidential Office on the morning of Jan. 1.

Tsai attended the annual ceremony wearing a deep-blue flight jacket of the Songshan Air Force Base Command’s presidential fleet. Unlike last year, she sang the anthem, before waving to the crowd along with Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁). The president’s decision to sing the anthem was notable when contrasted with her decision not to at the 2018 flag-raising ceremony.

Many in her Democratic Progressive Party object to some of the anthem’s lyrics, which were adapted from a 1924 speech by Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), the founding father of the Republic of China, and later became the lyrics of the party anthem of the Kuomintang in 1937.

The president arrived at the ceremony venue at 6:20 a.m. accompanied by Chen, Chen’s wife Lo Fong-ping (羅鳳蘋), Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) and most Cabinet members and senior government officials also participated in the ceremony, themed “Brave and Confident — One with the World,” in a steady drizzle and chilly winds.

They sang the national anthem following the lead of five naturalized citizens, including American-born basketball player Quincy Davis, who plays on Taiwan’s national team.

Other lead singers were physician Peter Kenrick (柯彼得) from Australia, television entertainer Ugur Rifat Karlova (吳鳳) from Turkey, a Burmese of Chinese descent Lily Yang (楊萬利), and Tran Ngoc Thuy (陳玉水) of Vietnam who published a Mandarin-Vietnamese translation manual on important legal terms.

The raising of the national flag was followed by the performance of the Ministry of National Defense band and honor guard, Taipei Municipal Chien-Kuo Boys’ Senior High School Marching Band and Taipei First Girls High School Honor Guard, and an aboriginal dance troop from Pingtung County.

The festive atmosphere was slightly disrupted, however, by a protest organized by activists calling for tax and legal reforms. After the national flag was hoisted, the protesters suddenly donned yellow vests and chanted slogans demanding reforms.

They were then expelled from the venue by security personnel and police. Nobody was injured during the disruption.

By Ku Chuan, Matt Yu and Elizabeth Hsu