Students stage their own press conference on service trade deal with China
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-23 05:22 PM
Students stage their own press conference on the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services.

In response to President Ma Ying-jeou’s noon press conference Sunday, the students in the anti-trade in services conclave held their own press conference at 13:00. They offered up a 32-word mantra stating that they believe the country is now in the midst of a constitutional crisis and the ruling and opposition parties should call a national meeting to discuss constitutional government for the benefit of all citizens. The students pledged to "fight to the bitter end," saying they did not rule out any possible form of protest. Student leader Lin Fei-fan said that President Ma has lost his legitimacy, and a national constitutional meeting should be convened by the government and citizens to examine the process of constitutional government.

Lin appeared together with Lu Chung-chun, president of the Taiwan Association of University Professors; Anti-Black Box Democratic Front convener Lai Chung chiang; Professor Huang Kuo-chang of the Academia Sinica Institute of Law; and Wang Hsi of the Citizens Awareness Alliance in an afternoon press conference in response to the press conference of President Ma.

Lin Fei-fan said the two sides had worked hard to produce the trade services agreement, but the failure to take public opinion into account was a violation of democratic principles that led to tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to express their concern for Taiwan's future. He added that it had taken six days for President Ma Ying-jeou to come forth and respond to their comments and suggestions.

Lin said he had hoped to hear what would amount to a dialogue coming from Ma, but expressed his disappointment that the only thing he heard was the same old propaganda with its hackneyed phrases and complete failure to take public opinion into account. The government line overlooked the deepest aspirations and expectations of the people of Taiwan, noted Lin.

Lin stressed that the government’s actions in pushing the agreement are illegal and said that the people occupying the Legislative Yuan now are not distorting the facts. He said that the effect of the president's meddling is to illegally collar the Legislative Yuan’s ability to uphold Taiwan's democracy on behalf of the people. A government dominated by the executive power, he said, is a fake democracy – something more akin to a dictatorship. The trade in services agreement, he noted, is the worst example of anti-democratic action using a so-called ‘black box’ approach. If the people are not involved, said Lin, there is no democracy; in a democracy everything is subject to discussion.

Lin said the group occupying the Legislative Yuan had done so precisely in order to highlight the absurdity of the current system. He stressed that people in democratic countries must be able to participate in deciding the future of their country. Taiwan must involve all of the people in working out planned legislation. The students’ proposals for getting through the current constitutional crisis focus on several conditions:

First, the students want to see a "Citizens Constitutional Conference" to discuss the proposals. The current constitutional crisis has eroded the legitimacy of Ma Ying-jeou’s administration and is impeding the progress of national development. As a result, all political parties should work to invite all sectors of society to participate in the Citizens’ Constitutional conference.

Second, say the students, Taiwan should ‘send back’ the trade in services agreement. At the same time the current session of the Legislative should develop a system to monitor development of cross-strait agreements. And until such a legal monitoring system is in place, the Legislative Yuan should refuse to examine any trade agreements between the two sides.

Third, they said, “All such agreements should be carried out under a system of monitoring by both sides of the strait. Before the monitoring system has been implemented, the government of Taiwan cannot negotiate or enter into any further agreements with China.

Finally, the students called for both ruling and opposition legislators to be more responsive to the demands of the people. A bill which will govern negotiations involving ruling and opposition parties is already being actively promoted and should receive its third reading in the Legislative Yuan during the current session.

Lai Chung-chiang said that citizens' groups have all sorts of suggestions for a series of procedures to monitor and follow-up on negotiations. These groups have appealed to members of the ruling and opposition parties to determine the subjects of meetings being held and discuss the relevant rules of procedure to be followed.

Huang Kuo-chang added that the "Citizens Constitutional Conference" is their own proposal for a national meeting to cover a wide range of topics involving constitutional issues. He explained that the group chose the word "Citizens" as the first word in its title of Citizens Constitutional Alliance to emphasize to its focus on citizen participation..

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