Snowballing protests against the cross-strait service agreement are not affecting the government’s resolution to push the pact through the legislature by June, as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reiterated his order to the Cabinet that it must be ratified by then.
Ma, who also serves as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, reiterated the deadline during the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, which was also attended by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).
According to committee members, who asked to remain anonymous, Ma did not respond to the demands of the protesters at the Legislative Yuan during the meeting.
At the meeting, Ma “commended” the way the KMT caucus had handled the trade pact and “expressed his appreciation to party lawmakers,” KMT officials said.
They quoted Ma as saying that the KMT caucus dealt with the issue in a “sensible, reasonable and legitimate” manner after KMT Policy Committee chief executive Lin Hung-chih’s (林鴻池) briefing on the matter.
The committee responded to Ma’s remarks with applause, the officials said.
KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) on Monday declared that the pact had cleared the committee stage without any of its articles being reviewed, prompting an occupation of the legislative chamber on Tuesday evening, mainly by students.
Along with the demand that the trade agreement be subject to a line-by-line review, the students said that Chang’s decision should be invalidated, Ma must apologize, Jiang should step down and the police must be withdrawn from the legislature.
They also called for legislation to increase supervision over cross-strait negotiations.
KMT officials said that Ma did not comment on what he thought Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) should do to end the occupation.
Earlier yesterday, when speaking to KMT caucus whips at a separate meeting, Ma urged the lawmakers to spare no efforts to get the trade pact ratified by June “lest the international community question our resolution, sincerity and credibility” in trade negotiations.
He told the whips that he hoped the endorsement and activation of the pact would bring about an “economic breakthrough” this year.
Jiang remained mum on the protest yesterday. However, late on Tuesday night, he called Wang and told him that he had given the National Police Agency the green light to intervene in the occupation.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) yesterday confirmed that Jiang called Wang and that they were in agreement on the urgency of restoring the “order” and “dignity” of the legislature as soon as possible.
Sun said the Executive Yuan would respect the way the Legislative Yuan handles the protesters after Wang said that he would call a meeting among caucus whips to map out a strategy to resolve the dispute.
Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said that the office supported Wang’s call for an early resumption of normal legislative work and appropriate handling of the issue in accordance with the law.
Meanwhile, Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien (王建煊) said he regretted the “ignorance” of the students “committing acts in violations of laws and discipline.”
“They had no idea that they were used by politicians,” Wang said.
Citing Jesus saying on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Wang said he would like to pray for God to forgive the protesters because they had no idea what they are doing.