Until the government releases an assessment of the impact on employment, culture, gender groups, industry and so on, the legislature should refuse to review the agreement.
Finally, the most difficult issue: substantive criteria. Simply put, every government agency is charged with implementing the Constitution and protecting people’s basic rights.
In the Constitution’s human rights clauses, Chapter 13 — the chapter on fundamental national policy — in the 10th of the additional articles to the Constitution and in the two human rights conventions, the legislature can easily find many important review standards, such as the freedom of publication, cultural diversification, financial stability, guaranteed employment, social security, protection of farmers, information security and so on. These standards help show why procedural participation and sufficient information are so important.
The Ma administration is being cowardly in its handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement and the information it releases is distorted. Furthermore, its arguments supporting the pact do not stand up to scrutiny. If this situation goes on, police violence will be the only thing the government can rely on for support.
Yen Chueh-an is a professor at National Taiwan University’s College of Law and a supervisor of Taiwan Democracy Watch.
Translated by Perry Svensson