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DPP to besiege Legislative Yuan March 21
Opposition demands review of trade pact with China
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-18 03:11 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The opposition will lay siege to the Legislative Yuan this Friday to demand a full review of the service trade pact with China, Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang said.

The ruling Kuomintang legislative caucus on Tuesday refused to have the review of the service trade pact with China returned to the committee level as the opposition boycotted a plenary meeting.

After the accord was signed last June, the government reluctantly agreed to have it reviewed and voted on clause by clause by the Legislative Yuan. During a chaotic meeting Monday, KMT lawmakers declared the pact had cleared the committee level and only needed to be submitted to a full floor meeting. When the meeting started Tuesday morning, the opposition occupied the podium, leading to the day’s proceedings being canceled.

The trade pact will affect more than a thousand sectors of the economy and have an impact on the livelihood of millions, yet the government has broken its promise of a thorough review before the accord could go into effect, Su said.

On Thursday March 20, the DPP will invite representatives of other opposition parties, social movements and business groups to supervise the pact together, the DPP leader said. The following day, the public should surround the Legislative Yuan to emphasize the importance of a review to Taiwan’s democracy and national security, Su said.

The KMT legislative caucus on Tuesday refused to have the review of the service trade pact with China returned to the committee level as the opposition boycotted a plenary meeting.

The DPP said that as long as there was no serious review of the pact, there would not be full meetings of the Legislative Yuan nor question time for Premier Jiang Yi-huah and his Cabinet ministers.

The DPP demanded the ruling camp live up to an earlier agreement to conduct a serious review of the trade pact clause by clause. It was totally unacceptable for the chairman of Monday’s joint meeting of eight committees, KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung, to have declared the meeting open and the review of the pact then completed, the DPP said.

During a meeting marked by brawls and scuffles, Chang declared the trade-in-services pact filed to the legislative floor for further reference. He also said the three-month review period for the accord, which he described as an administrative order, were over. Ruling camp lawmakers said it was now enough for Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to sign a statement declaring the accord as reviewed for the agreement to take effect.

The KMT and the DPP cited constitutional rulings to accuse each other of having violated proper proceedings on the trade accord. The DPP said the legislative review was needed because the pact was a matter of national importance, while KMT caucus chief Lin Hung-chih said that because no laws needed to be changed, the constitutional ruling did not apply.

It was up to the full legislative floor meeting how the accord proceeded further, but the KMT would definitely not agree to return the issue to the committee level, Lin told reporters.

Activists criticizing the way in which the trade pact has been handled by the government from the start said they would spend the night outside the Legislative Yuan and launch a siege by protesters beginning Wednesday morning. A group of the activists reportedly succeeded in entering the Legislature's grounds through a side entrance Tuesday evening.

The legislative speaker closed Tuesday’s morning meeting at 11:30, as no consensus was likely to be reached during the rest of the day, reports said. The premier and his ministers were allowed to leave the assembly.

DPP headquarters called on the government to respect its June 25 agreement to have the pact reviewed by the Legislature. Party officials called on President Ma Ying-jeou to come out and explain why the KMT, which he chairs, changed its mind. The opposition group denied it had ever completely opposed the trade-in-services pact, while predicting it would propose its own version Wednesday.

Critics of the deal with China called for the renegotiation of those parts which did not give equal treatment to Taiwanese businesses, but the government emphasized this was not possible.

The DPP said it would closely cooperate with social action groups, victims of the trade pact, members of the public, party members and other organizations to block the KMT’s unilateral action.

Former Premier Frank Hsieh called for the widest possible cooperation in conducting a total protest action.

“The KMT committed an unpardonable mistake,” he said, adding that the governing party had also destroyed future interaction between ruling camp and opposition.

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