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Students protest against top KMT lawmaker
Occupiers call people's assembly to review trade pact laws
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-04 02:59 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An estimated 500 students protested outside the office of ruling Kuomintang legislative chief whip Lin Hung-chih in New Taipei City Friday, while their leaders announced plans for a people’s assembly to review a new legislative proposal.

The students who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan since March 18 in a protest against the trade-in-services pact with China identified four KMT lawmakers as targets for protests Friday.

In addition to Lin, the student leaders also identified KMT legislators Chang Ching-chung, Lin Te-fu and Wu Yu-sheng as targets for further action. Chang gained prominence by cutting short a clause-by-clause review of the trade pact in just 30 seconds on March 17, the action which led to the student occupation starting the next day. Wu is a close confidant of the president, having served him as a spokesman. He said it was the students who were breaking the law by occupying the Legislature.

An estimated 500 students and their supporters gathered at a park near Jiangzicui MRT Station in Panchiao, New Taipei City, for an hour-long walk which took them past Lin Hung-chih’s local office, reports said. They handed out leaflets, held speeches and encouraged voters to exert pressure on their lawmaker. Security measures around the lawmaker’s office were being stepped up, reports said. Plans for student leaders Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting to attend were dropped after a discussion concluded their appearance might focus too much attention on their persons rather than on the cause.

Local volunteers collected funds to buy water bottles for the protesters, while others waved a banner with the words “The people of Taiwan have bravely stood up.” Because the same flag also included a reference to former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen’s 2012 presidential campaign, there were allegations that there was party involvement in the march, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported.

As the march toward Lin Hung-chih’s office started, police held up placards to warn the students the protest had not been approved, reports said.

During a visit to Pingtung County Friday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah was received by a dozen youths shouting slogans against the trade pact through a loudspeaker. Scuffling erupted when the authorities tried to remove the protesters.

The student leaders at the Legislative Yuan said they saw some signs of optimism, with KMT lawmaker Chen Ken-te recently making positive comments about proposals from the occupiers. They called on a group of eleven legislators to rebel against party discipline and against Ma and to stand on what they described as the side of the people.

Student leader Lin Fei-fan announced that a people’s assembly consisting of 1,500 people would hold a quick review of regulations supervising trade negotiations with China.

On Saturday, a total of at least 1,500 students and member of social movements would divide themselves into 60 working groups spread over the Legislative Yuan’s main assembly hall and two nearby streets to discuss legal provisions guiding trade talks with China, Lin announced.

The government approved its own version of such a law on Thursday, but the students have dismissed it as too vague and as not giving enough power to the public. One of their key demands since starting their occupation on March 18 was the passage of such a law first before the Legislative Yuan could restart the review of the contested trade-in-services pact signed with China last June.

Lin said lawmakers from both sides of the political divide would be welcome Saturday to join the people’s assembly in an attempt at realizing direct democracy. Media reports said Chang An-lo, the former gang leader widely known as the “White Wolf,” would also be invited to take part in the meeting. Chang, who led a protest against the occupiers Tuesday, said he would not enter the Legislature’s assembly hall.

DPP officials said their version of a supervisory law included a report by the premier to the Legislative Yuan if a cross-straits accord touched on important issues linked to defense, foreign affairs, finance and the economy. In such events, a vote at the Legislature could also be followed by a referendum, the DPP said.

Lin also reacted to calls from the KMT and from government allies for the students to leave the Legislature. “President Ma, you cannot push us out,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday denied reports that an investigation had been launched into Taiwanese studying overseas who had participated in recent anti-government protests. When an estimated 500,000 people rallied in Taipei last Sunday to support the students, hundreds of Taiwanese students also held events in about 49 cities around the world.

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