There is no ban on wearing masks at rallies, but the government does not encourage the practice either, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) told lawmakers yesterday.
As far as he could recall, the government has never banned masks at rallies, Hsu said during an interpellation session on the legislative floor, after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Ming-tsai (羅明才) asked him if people could wear masks at protests.
Demonstrations nowadays are relatively peaceful compared with those seen during the nation’s democratic movement, he added.
Hsu was foolish to encourage people to wear masks, as it would make identification difficult if the rallies turned violent, Lo said.
The premier also defended the no-mask-ban policy.
Taiwan is a free, democratic and liberal nation, so the government would not issue a mask ban, but the government would not tolerate masked thugs, such as the man who tossed red paint on Hong Kong singer and rights advocate Denise Ho (何韻詩) on the sidelines of a rally last month, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
However, that incident was a case of organized crime, he said.
Yesterday’s questions came after National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) on Sunday said that Article 14 of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) stipulates that authorities “shall put necessary restrictions” on “any disguise that might make personal identification difficult,” effectively prohibiting the use of masks.
However, that did not mean that police would ban protesters from wearing a mask or other covering, Chen said, adding that police would only check the identity of people they think might pose a potential threat to a rally.
Additional reporting by CNA