Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-05 03:37 PM
The Cabinet approved its own guidelines on Thursday, but critics condemned it as insufficient and especially not transparent enough.
The students welcomed outside academics and politicians from all stripes to their discussions, held in and around the Legislative Yuan, with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. Chairman Terry Gou, one of the nation’s wealthiest businessmen, expected to show up during the afternoon. Student leaders though said they did not know whether he would attend.
A total of 1,500 people divided over 60 groups were scheduled to conduct the discussions split over a morning, afternoon and evening session. The morning session centered on the trade pact itself. It was signed last June but a promised detailed review of the accord was cut short by the ruling Kuomintang on March 17, provoking the students to start their occupation of the Legislature the following day.
The morning session of the people’s assembly, hosted by Chung Yuan Christian University assistant professor Hsu Wei-chun and by attorney Lai Chung-chiang, attracted over 400 people, even though Lin Fei-fan, the leader of the sunflower protest movement, reportedly did not give his opinion on the subject.
The occupiers have demanded the government withdraw the trade pact from legislative consideration and allow the approval of a framework supervisory law before resubmitting the pact. President Ma Ying-jeou has rejected the key demands.
Lin said the people’s assembly did not mean to replace the Legislature, but the democratic method could be useful when the official representative bodies failed to work and the power of the executive had become too strong.
The public had the ability to decide what kind of trade pact and supervisory guidelines were needed for Taiwan, Lin said. He added that the conclusions of the assembly would be collected in a written document, which should be commented on item by item by the Executive Yuan and by lawmakers.
The student leader condemned accusations that the sunflower movement’s presence at the Legislature was causing delays for as many as thousands of laws. Ma and the KMT should stop finding excuses to condemn the protesters and instead face the demands for more transparency and a larger emphasis on Taiwan’s interests in talks with China, Lin said. The solution to the current stalemate was not forcing the students to leave, but providing an honest response to their demands, according to Lin.
The Mainland Affairs Council said it hoped the trade accord and the monitoring mechanism would be discussed through normal legislative channels following constitutional practices. Students were welcome to visit the government department to understand more about related laws, officials said. Another possibility according to the MAC was for the students to hold debates and seminars on campus.
Late Friday, DPP lawmaker Lin Shu-fen launched the news that police in riot gear were seen close to the legislative compound, leading to fears that the authorities were preparing to attack and expel the students. The government later denied there were any such plans.
“The day Ma used violence against the students was the day he would have to step down,” said DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang.