Fri, Mar 21, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Students give Ma, Wang ultimatum

OR ELSE:The legislature occupiers demanded that the government reject the cross-strait service trade pact and freeze talks with China pending new monitoring laws

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Students gathered outside the Qingdao E Road entrance to the Legislative Yuan in Taipei are treated to lessons in democracy offered by professors yesterday as the occupation of the legislative chamber continues inside the building.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Student activists occupying the Legislative Yuan yesterday issued an ultimatum to the government, demanding that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) respond positively to their demands by noon today, or they would take further action.

“We hereby call on Ma and Wang to respond positively and clearly to our demands,” Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), a National Tsing Hua University graduate student and one of the main leaders of the protest, said at a press conference in the main hall of the legislative building in Taipei. “We would like Wang to tell us how he plans to deal with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), and we would like the government to reject the service trade pact with China and suspend all cross-strait talks until legislation on the monitoring of cross-strait agreements is drafted and passed.”

“If Ma and Wang fail to respond satisfactorily to our demands, we will take further action, the specifics of which we will announce at that time,” he added.

Chen said that nearly 60 percent of the public supports the protesters’ occupation of the legislative chamber, which “shows that we are not just a few, rather, we stand for the majority of the public and we are occupying a chamber that belongs to the people and is meant to work on behalf of the people, since the people’s representatives are not doing their job.”

According to police estimates, there were several thousand protesters surrounding the Legislative Yuan earlier in the day, but the number passed 10,000 in the evening, after rumors spread that the police may break in to clear the legislative chamber before daybreak today.

At about 2am yesterday, Wuer Kaixi, one of the Chinese student leaders at the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, appeared on the legislative floor to voice his support for the students’ movement.

“This is 100 percent democracy in action and I admire what the Taiwanese students are doing,” he told the occupiers. “President Ma Ying-jeou claims that he was a student activist when he was younger, but what he’s doing now is a far cry from upholding democratic values; he should come here to apologize to you, the students.”

“As for Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), I would like to ask him to resign,” Wuer Kaixi added, before singing Goodnight Taiwan and chanting slogans urging the government to reject the trade agreement along with the students, triggering rounds of applause.

Not long after Wuer Kaixi left, another former Tiananmen Square student leader, Wang Dan (王丹), also put in an appearance at the legislature, but declined to speak, saying he was only there to support the demonstrators.

During the day, more than 40 university professors — from National Taiwan University, National Chengchi University, National Taiwan University of Arts, National Tsing Hua University and Fu Jen Catholic University — appeared on a stage outside the Legislative Yuan on Jinan Road to teach “civic lessons” to students.

Many professors, such as Fu Jen associate professor of psychology Ho Tung-hung (河東洪), invited their students to join them for a lesson on the streets outside the Legislative Yuan, or offered them official leave if they wanted to skip the class to join the protest.

In a letter, National Dong Hwa University president Wu Mao-kun (吳茂昆) praised the students’ action.

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