Ma plans news conference, invites university presidents
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-28 05:37 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Ma Ying-jeou was planning to hold a news conference Saturday, a day before a massive student protest, while he invited university presidents to discuss the crisis with him Friday evening, reports said.

As students continued their occupation of the Legislative Yuan begun on March 18 against the trade-in-services pact with China, Ma was scheduling a news conference for Saturday morning, though the precise content was not yet known.

He was planning to clarify his stance about the trade accord and about the students’ demands, reports said.

The occupiers have asked the government to withdraw the trade deal from consideration by the Legislative Yuan and lawmakers to pass a law first setting guidelines for the managing of trade talks with China. The protesters also wanted a national conference on constitutional affairs.

The timing of the news conference Saturday morning could be designed to influence the students’ plan to rally more than 100,000 supporters outside the Presidential Office Building on Sunday afternoon, observers said.

On Friday evening, Ma had scheduled a meeting with the presidents of prominent universities and academic institutions. The 7 p.m. event was billed as a seminar-style discussion.

Initial reports said six academics were invited, National Taiwan University President Yang Pan-chyr, National Sun Yat-sen University President Yang Hung-duen, National Dong Hwa University President Wu Maw-kuen, National Chiao Tung University President Wu Lee Yan-hwa, National Chung Hsing University President Lee Der-tsai and National Yang-Ming University President Liang Kung-yee. On Thursday, the six published a joint statement calling for a resolution to the crisis and for the return of students to campus.

The media reported later that Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey and a total of ten university presidents would visit Ma, not to defend the students, but to exchange views about the crisis, according to Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling.

The Presidential Office reportedly held talks with one of the key leaders of the protest movement. Huang Kuo-chang, an assistant researcher at the Academia Sinica, reportedly met presidential vice secretary-general Hsiao Hsu-kan Thursday, reports said.

Sherry Lee, a media personality acquainted with both men, hosted the 20-minute encounter, but it only served as an exchange of views and not an official round of negotiations, reports said.

The news of the meeting was later leaked without the knowledge of the participants, allegedly by someone at the Presidential Office, Lee said online.

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