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Legislative Yuan will not sue students
Student leaders reject offer businessman
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-18 02:52 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said Friday he would not sue the students who occupied the chamber for 24 days for compensation, but their leaders rejected an offer from a businessman to pay for repairs.

The students controlled most of the legislative compound from March 18 until April 10 in a protest against heavy-handed government support for the trade-in-services pact with China.

Wang said Friday that lawmakers from both sides had unanimously agreed to a proposal by Chinese National Federation of Industries Chairman Rock Hsu to pay for the NT$2.85 million (US$94,000) needed to repair the compound after the occupation. Earlier worst-case estimates had put the cost as high as NT$100 million (US$3.3 million), Wang said.

Since the problem had come to a satisfactory conclusion and an outside benefactor was willing to pay, there would be no need to sue the occupiers for compensation, Wang told reporters.

Hsu could still eventually seek compensation from the students using a technique prevalent in the insurance sector, the legal assumption of another individual’s debt, reports said.

However, a prominent leader of the occupation later said he rejected Hsu’s offer. The students had already raised more than NT$15 million (US$496,000) and would use that money to pay after close talks with Legislative Yuan departments, activist Lai Chung-chiang said. He added that his stance had won the support of fellow student leaders Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting as well as prominent non-governmental organizations.

The main reasons for turning down Hsu’s offer were that the businessman would be able to demand compensation from the students and that his organization, the CNFI, was one of the main forces behind the attempt at the rapid passage of the trade pact and the opposition against rises in the basic minimum wage.

The speaker presented a detailed list of all the separate repairs to be effectuated around the area, reports said. Fixing carpets, furniture and glass, and painting and removing graffiti would cost NT$2.27 million, while NT$97,965 would be spent on plants outside. Damage to phones and computer systems was estimated at NT$89,500, to closed-circuit cameras at NT$211,000 and to microphone systems at NT$88,000, while the plaque at the main entrance of the Legislature would cost NT$25,900 to repair, Wang said.

The repair of gates, doors and locks caused during the March 18 invasion by protesters would cost a total of NT$70,000, according to the Legislative Yuan calculations.

One of the top leaders of the student occupation, Lin Fei-fan, revealed on Friday he had received a summons from the police to appear for questioning about his actions. The document had arrived at his family home in Tainan. The case the student was to be questioned about was listed as “interference with public functions.”

“President Ma Ying-jeou’s most naïve spot is that he thinks that a judicial method can weaken us and hit us, and make trouble for the activists and cause the bystanders to step back in doubt,” Lin said. He added that the students were ready for legal prosecution in the wake of their civil disobedience movement.

Lin described the court proceedings as a stage for new action and added he and his fellow students would fight and not lose. His father added words of support to the student leader’s online statement.

Lin could reportedly face legal action on about ten counts, with his fellow student leader, Chen Wei-ting, facing a similar amount. The duo did not take part in the March 23-24 occupation of the Executive Yuan, which ended with riot police dislodging protesters with water cannons and batons, and in the Zhongzheng Precinct siege.

Some members of the student movement have refused to cooperate with police, saying they wanted to deal directly with prosecutors. Others called on members of the public to give themselves up en masse to the police as a sign of sympathy with the students.

Four activists showed up at the Zhongzheng First Precinct Friday morning to do just that, though only two had been asked by police to face questioning. One of the four was a Democratic Progressive Party candidate for the Taipei City Council, but police were not willing to reveal the identity of the other three for reasons of confidentiality, reports said. Anyone giving themselves up for the wrong reasons could face prosecution, police said.

An attorney said the authorities could not just take action against the leaders of the protest but should also list all participants as suspected accomplices.

The letter sent to Lin bore the printed signature of Fang Yang-ning, the chief of the Zhongzheng First Precinct at the heart of the April 11 siege, in which Lin did not participate.

The day after the legislative occupation ended, the TRA remained in front of the building because it still held a valid permit to continue a five-year-long protest here. However, local police cracked down on the group, during which Tsay collided with a bus. Anger over the police action culminated with a night-long siege of a nearby precinct office. In the end, the TRA’s right to stay outside the Legislative Yuan was restored.

During the event, Fang announced an apology and his readiness to resign, but Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin later said he would not accept that resignation unless an investigation found the local police chief to have made mistakes.

Tsay said Friday he would return to the site for the first time during the evening for a forum where he would answer questions from the public. The event was expected to attract supporters of the students’ Sunflower Movement, Taiwan Independence and a nuclear-free Taiwan, reports said.

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