Student leaders slam special legislative session
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-23 04:42 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Student movement leaders accused the ruling Kuomintang Friday of using the stabbings on the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit train as cover to force through the Cross-Straits Services Trade Agreement.

After Tunghai University student Cheng Chieh was arrested in the killing of four people and the injuring of 24 others with a knife on the MRT Wednesday, the Legislative Yuan agreed to hold a special summer session to discuss the trade pact with China.

Student leader Lin Fei-fan and Academia Sinica scholar Huang Kuo-chang accused the KMT caucus of hiding behind the intensive news coverage of the MRT stabbings to launch an attempt at bypassing the will of the people.

Lin and Huang were key leaders of the movement which occupied the Legislative Yuan from March 18 to April 10. Before they ended their action, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng agreed to their demand that lawmakers should first discuss the passage of a framework law to monitor talks with China before the trade pact itself would be dealt with.

The special legislative session, to take place from June 16 to July 4 with an opening discussion on June 13, will handle the trade accord, the framework law and a proposal for special free economic zones which has also been attacked by the opposition.

“Island Forward,” the organization which student leaders formed last weekend, said it had to voice the strongest possible opposition against the KMT caucus move made while the whole nation was still mourning the victims of the MRT attack.

The practice of recalling the Legislative Yuan from its summer recess to hold special sessions should not become regular because it would undermine its usual proceedings and allow proposals to be passed in an irregular and underhand way, Island Forward said in a statement.

Last summer, the KMT used the same tactic to try and force through the trade pact, but when that failed, it promised to hold public hearings on the subject, the students said. A new attempt this summer would defy democracy and meet with concrete and resolute action from the public, Island Forward warned.

In a related development, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party on Friday filed a proposal to lower the threshold for launching a recall motion against lawmakers. The demand was part of several measures widely supported by the opposition and by student and social activists.

The DPP proposal lowered the requirement that at least 2 percent of the election district’s population supported the launch of a recall to 1 percent. Instead of at least 13 percent of the population having to sign the recall demand, at least 6 percent would be enough according to the DPP proposal. The opposition party also wanted to abolish the ban on discussing whether one was for or against the recall during the time of the campaign.

The DPP motion also stipulated that a recall would be successful if at least 25 percent of the people voted and more voters approved the recall than rejected it.

DPP lawmakers expressed the fear that the KMT would block the motion when it came up for discussion at the legislative committee in charge of setting the agenda for meetings.

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