TAIPEI, Taiwan - President Ma Ying-jeou was attacked last night by a pro-independent protester who hurled a book as a gesture protesting Ma's allegedly pro-China comments during an interview with German media Deutsche Welle.
The book reportedly brushed Ma's bodyguard before hitting the president in the stomach. The attack occurred as Ma departed from a welcome banquet of the 2014 Asia Pacific Franchise Confederation and World Franchise Council Meeting in Taiwan, which was held at the Denwell restaurant.
After the incident, Ma was immediately escorted by bodyguards to a nearby elevator, while another group of bodyguards took the attacker down, and then brought him to a separate area for questioning.
Preliminary reports indicate that the protester, identified as Yan Ming-wai, is a college freshman majoring in sociology. He is also a ranking officer of the Flanc Radical, a youth political group that advocates for Taiwanese independence.
Yan reportedly initiated the attack to vent his discontent regarding Ma's cross-strait policy. He shouted "Taiwan and China, one nation on each side (of the Taiwan Strait)" even when he was being worked to the ground by bodyguards.
Yan said that his plan of attack was hatched on the spot. He purchased the book "Formosa Betrayed," written by US diplomatic officer George H. Kerr, who was in Taiwan and witnessed the 228 Incident. The book was originally intended as a gift, he said.
Yan was later released and told the media that he knew there was a price to pay for his actions. Nevertheless, Yan said that he wanted to protest against Ma's remarks on Taiwan's unification with mainland China made during an interview with German media.
Pro-independence Movement Endorses Attack
It just so happened that a pro-independence organisation's fund-raising event was also held at Denwell last night. Attendants included Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei.
Flanc Radical later issued a statement on its Facebook page, expressing its endorsement of Yan's actions. Ma's remarks about pushing for a pro-China policy, and his intention to learn how East Germany and West Germany achieved unification have stirred substantial anger among Taiwanese, the statement says.
Presidential Office spokeswoman Ma Wei-kuo confirmed a book thrown by a protester had hit Ma. The government respects the public's right to express opinions, but condemns violent acts of any form, she said.
Pan-green independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je also was at the scene last night. Asked by the media to comment on the incident, Ko responded that protests are common in democratic countries, but physically attacking an official is never the right thing to do.