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Protestors of trade in services pact liven Ketagalan Blvd Sunday
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-22 07:10 PM
The Democratic Front against the Cross-straits Trade in Services Agreement, the Taiwan Association of University Professors and other organizations opposed to the “black box” agreement gathered Sunday afternoon in front of the Presidential Office to express their objection to the pact. Arguing that the treaty was signed in haste and in secret and could harm Taiwan’s clothing trade, beauty shop industry and a number of other vulnerable sectors of the economy, the groups called for the government to restart negotiations on the agreement.

At the same time, the protestors urged activists throughout Taiwan to heighten their vigilance regarding congressional oversight and checks and balances in the government. They charged that the Ma administration is threatening to harm the national interest by signing the trade in services agreement with the Chinese Communists without putting enough thought and consideration into what it will mean for Taiwan and its economy.

Former Vice-president Annette Lu was on hand to help stir up the crowd, voicing an appeal to members of the Legislative to carefully consider the provisions of the trade in services agreement. She reminded legislators on both sides of the aisle that their first duty is to safeguard the interests of the people of Taiwan, noting that they must be certain that the trade in services agreement will not sell out a large segment of Taiwan’s citizens.

Lai Chung-chiang, the convener of the Democratic Front, condemned the Ma government and its “black box” tactics for a lack of transparency in signing an agreement with representatives of the Chinese Communist Party without doing the necessary footwork beforehand. Lai pointed out that hastily implementing the agreement could have a fearful impact on Taiwan's labor force, and recommended the passage of a "Trade Liberalization Impact Assessment and Relief Act" together with other supporting measures to ensure that the Legislative Yuan will have adequate information and data for review in studying the agreement .

The alliance of civic groups had originally planned to encircle the Legislative Yuan in response to a planned drive by the KMT to force passage of the trade in services agreement without a careful review. Fearing that targeting the Legislative Yuan could lead to conflict and bloodshed, however, members of the Green Camp persuaded the activists to gather on Ketagalan Road instead. At the same time, a conference between ruling and opposition legislators agreed to postpone discussion of the trade in services agreement until later.

The protest groups began gathering at 1:00PM Sunday in front of the Presidential Office where they started off by announcing the results of a survey on "cross-strait negotiations and Taiwan’s legal system" including information on the names and constituencies of the legislators polled. They also announced the winners of a "Trade in Services Golden Horse Awards” for the “Best Follower of Ma Ying-jeou” and other prizes awarded to various legislators for their stances on trade issues. They also listened to speakers and enjoyed a few musical performances throughout the chilly afternoon until they dispersed at just before 5:00PM.

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