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President Ma still holds out hopes for dialogue with students
Central News Agency
2014-03-28 11:34 PM
Taipei, March 28 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated Friday his willingness to talk with the student protesters who have occupied the Legislative Yuan since March 18, saying the doors to the Presidential Office will not close. Three days ago, he invited the students for talks, but he has so far not received any positive responses from them, Ma said during a meeting with 11 university heads at the Presidential Office. Despite that, "the Presidential Office's doors will not close," he said, adding that he welcomes students to have a dialogue with him. And such talks will be entirely opened to the media, with live broadcast allowed, Ma said. Ma added that all the students' demands can be discussed, but he hopes the students will not use their demands as preconditions for talks. The Legislative Yuan's occupiers have demanded new legislation that would subject any agreements with China to close monitoring by lawmakers and industry groups. They have also demanded that the lawmakers not take any action on the services pact with China until the new law is enacted. Those meeting with Ma Friday included six university presidents who issued a joint statement the previous day, expressing hope for an early end to the standoff between the protesters and the government, so that the protesting students could return to school as soon as possible. The six university heads are Yang Pan-chyr of National Taiwan University, Yang Hung-duen of National Sun Yat-sen University, Wu Maw-kuen of National Dong Hwa University, Wu Yan-hwa of National Chiao Tung University, Lee Der-tsai of National Chung Hsing University, and Liang Kung-yee of National Yang-Ming University. Ma said he shared the school chiefs' feelings and has been hoping that people could express their demands in peaceful and rational ways. "I always believe a country would have a promising future only if its young people care about national affairs and are brave in participation," Ma told the guests. However, a reasonable demand would lose its legitimacy if upheld by violence, he said, adding that he felt extremely sad when watching clashes between police and protesters. He was referring to the battles that broke out between police and protesters after the protesters stormed into the Executive Yuan on March 23. Some of the students threw objects at the police, and the police used water cannons and batons to drive them away. More than 100 students and police officers were injured. In the meeting with Ma, the university presidents urged the government to hold talks with protesting students and expressed hope that the two sides will not insist on their stance so that dialogue can proceed. They also suggested Ma set up a platform for communications between the government and student protesters. Ko Tzu-hsiang of Lunghwa University of Science and Technology asked President Ma to try to understand the student protesters' thoughts in a tolerant manner, and to review the incident with a modest mind. Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li, meanwhile, told the press following the meeting that the school leaders suggested the president and the students each dispatch five delegates to the proposed platform to engage in talks. Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling, who was also present at Ma's meeting with university heads, said that Ma agreed with the idea of establishing a 10-person communication platform. Now, the ball is in the student protesters' court, he said. (By Kelven Huang and Elizabeth Hsu)
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