On May 19 at 16:43 Taipei time a 50-year-old man surnamed Chen set himself on fire in front of Taiwan‘s Presidential Office Building.
According to local reports, the man was walking on Chongqing South Road when he suddenly took out a knife. He was promptly reprimanded by a policeman on guard in front of the presidential office. Subsequently the man proceeded southwards in the direction of Ketagalan Boulevard. Then he stopped, took a lighter and set himself on fire. Reports suggest that he had poured petrol over his body beforehand. The police found an oil drum inside Jieshou Park opposite the presidential palace.
|(Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas)|
Policemen intervened immediately. They used extinguishers to put out the fire and continued to pour cold water over the man. 80% of his body suffered second-degree burns. He was taken to the nearby Taiwan University Hospital.
The police are investigating the possible motives behind the man’s action. According to Taiwan’s tabloid Apple Daily, the deed might be politically motivated. On May 19, 1989, a funeral procession of the Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Zheng Nanrong (鄭南榕; Wade-Giles: Cheng Nan-jung) was stopped by the police in front of the Presidential Office Building. Zheng had immolated himself in his Taipei office while the police were trying to arrest him on charges of insurrection. To protest against the authorities’ disruption of the funeral, Zhan Yihua (詹益樺; Wade-Giles: Chan I-hua), one of Zheng’s fellow activists, performed self-immolation.