The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was last night debating how to open entrances to the legislative chamber which have been blocked by the opposition since Monday, preventing Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from entering to call a vote on whether to allow imports of meat products containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
At about 8:35pm, legislative staff were asked to get KMT lawmakers some shears as they planned to cut cable wire that had been tied to piles of chairs and the two doors to the chamber through which Wang usually passes to preside over plenary sessions.
No action had been taken as of press time.
On the third day of the 120-hour boycott of legislative proceedings to block the vote, the opposition intensified its readiness against the ruling party, which has vowed to resolve the beef issue before the legislative session ends tomorrow.
Throughout the day, rumors spread that the KMT would initiate counteractions at “anytime” against the opposition lawmakers, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said.
The occupation is part of a strategy to demand that the government cease its policy of raising electricity rates and that it retain the ban on imports of meat products containing ractopamine.
“We have demanded that our caucus members who have returned to their constituencies to help flood victims, return to Taipei and stay close to the legislature,” Wu said at about 4pm after the caucus called a meeting to plan a strategy.
However, as of last night, a substantial number of KMT lawmakers were not in Taipei. The KMT caucus, which has 64 seats, estimated that between 20 and 30 lawmakers were on standby.
At about 5pm, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) decided to hold the fort to prevent any “ambush” overnight.
All DPP caucus members were ordered to stay in the chamber overnight, replacing the previous rotating shifts whereby half the party’s legislators were allowed to leave the chamber, while the other half remained on duty, DPP legislative caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.
At about 6:30pm, rumors spread that the KMT planned to enter the chamber at 8pm. That triggered the opposition to place more chairs against the two entrances to the chamber and to use more cable wire to tie them to the doors.
After dinner, DPP lawmakers conducted a drill to practice occupying the speaker’s podium.
“Oppose raising electricity prices. Oppose authoritarianism. Oppose leanness-enhancing agents,” they shouted as they lined up arm-in-arm on the speaker’s podium.
People First Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers also joined the drill.
At one point in the morning, PFP Legislator Chang Show-foong (張曉風), a well-known writer, turned up and stood at the podium, sparking a round of applause for the 71-year-old for his decision to “fight for the people.”
The opposition vowed to continue the protest until tomorrow.
Earlier yesterday, Wang categorically rejected an idea proposed by Wu that he call in police to clear the floor to allow proceedings to take place.
Stressing the principle of “legislative autonomy,” Wang said it would be “intolerable” to allow any external forces to interfere with legislative proceedings.
“The legislature shall operate fully independently of any external interference. Police are here to ensure the safety of the legislature. As for interactions that occur among lawmakers, that’s another matter,” Wang said.