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Student activists to launch tour from Kaohsiung
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-21 02:58 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The students who came to prominence by occupying the Legislative Yuan said Wednesday they would launch a series of activities from Kaohsiung on May 25 to continue their opposition against accords with China.

The groups occupied the Legislature from March 18 to April 10 to try and force a stop to the government’s Cross-Straits Services Trade Agreement and to demand a framework law to monitor talks with China.

Because there was still a danger that the trade pact might be approved, the students said they would launch a national tour with five to seven stages beginning in Kaohsiung on May 25.

Organizations such as the Democratic Front against the Black Box Service Trade Pact and the newly formed Island Forward group said they also would use the tour to express their opposition against government plans for special free trade zones and their call for a citizens’ constitutional conference.

Democratic Front convener Lai Chung-chiang said their action was needed because legislators close to President Ma Ying-jeou wanted to call a special session of the Legislative Yuan to pass the trade pact. The plan went against the promise by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to approve a framework monitoring law before there could even be negotiations about the trade deal, Lai said.

The activist warned Ma not to take the side opposite to public opinion again, otherwise there would be concrete action to try and stop the pact.

The framework rules needed to include more involvement from the public, safeguards for human rights, open information and reviews by the Legislature, the student leaders said. A government version of a framework law has been rejected by opposition and activists alike for not providing enough transparency.

The citizens’ constitutional conference was one of the basic demands of the student occupiers, but instead the government responded with plans for a national conference about the economy and trade, which the activists rebutted.

The Kaohsiung event, to be held Sunday night, would also mark the launch of two volunteer movements, one to collect signatures for a revision of the Referendum Act and another to monitor not only the service trade pact but also the eventual trade-in-goods accord and the legislation about the free economic zones, activists said.

Wednesday’s news conference was also attended by three key leaders from the occupation of the Legislative Yuan, students Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting and Academia Sinica scholar Huang Kuo-chang.

The legislative caucuses of the ruling Kuomintang and the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party sat down together Wednesday morning, but were unable to find an agreement on what do about the trade-in-services pact and other key topics. The KMT wanted to hold a special legislative session in June, but the DPP suggested that if that was their plan, they might as well extend the current session by two months instead of going into recess.

The budgets of state-owned enterprises could also be dealt with in such an event, DPP chief legislative whip Ker Chien-ming said.

The caucuses were expected to resume discussions on the issue on Thursday morning, reports said.

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