Taiwan: Nets protect president from hurled shoes

Police officers prepare a net to stop shoes thrown at President Ma Ying-jeou at the Taipei City Hakka Cultural Park on 20 October

So many protesters hurl shoes at Taiwan's president that police put up protective nets around him when he speaks in public.

Security personnel began using nets at public events attended by Ma Ying-jeou in the face of an increasing number of protests against him, reports the Taipei Times. Shoe-throwing has been a feature several times in recent weeks, it seems. And the paper quotes one Solidarity Union legislator as saying police forked out the equivalent of £17,000 (£10,500) on a huge net which, when raised between two poles, offers Ma a protective shield. Opposition figures branded it a waste of money, and some reports suggested Ma wass uncomfortable with the move because he wants to present himself as close to the people.

However, the presidential office denied he'd ordered police authorities not to use them, with a spokesman saying Ma respects security staff's judgement, Want China Times reports. The president faces a growing number of critics over Taiwan's economic performance and a controversial services trade agreement with China. Throwing shoes, an insult most commonly associated with the Arab world, came to wider attention in 2008 when an Iraqi journalist hurled one at former US President George W Bush in protest at his Middle East policies.

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