The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday issued an ultimatum demanding that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) apologize to the public about the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement and renegotiate the deal.
“If it were not for Ma’s grave mistakes in his handling of the agreement, the students would not be here,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told an international press conference, referring to the hundreds of protesters — mostly students — occupying the legislative chamber since Tuesday evening.
“The ball is now in Ma’s court. A solution to the ongoing mass protest is still possible if he is willing to apologize, send the deal back for substantive deliberation and renegotiate it with China,” Su said, warning the Ma administration against using police force to remove the students.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has always resorted to smear campaigns to discredit the opposition and hide its true motives, Su said.
Since the occupation of the legislative chamber began, the KMT and several media outlets have branded the students “rioters” and accused them of “lawless behavior,” he said.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) yesterday accused “certain political parties” of being behind the student protest.
The DPP has nothing to do with the protest, Su said, adding that the students “had no choice but to stage it” because Ma had refused to listen to the public.
Su blasted KMT claims that the DPP had violated the consensus and tried to undermine the ratification of the deal.
Nothing could be further from the truth, he said, as the DPP had submitted a counterproposal and convened a joint committee meeting to review the pact.
“The KMT could have attended the meeting and taken advantage of its majority during the review process, but it refused to do so,” he said.
Pledging his full support to the students, Su said the DPP has begun mobilizing people across the country for a mass rally today in and around the Legislative Yuan compound.
With the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union both mobilizing support, the crowd of protesters could swell to more than 15,000, he said.
At press time, the number of protesters outside had surpassed 10,000, police estimates show.
In a prepared statement, the DPP condemned the KMT for disregarding a previous consensus on the trade agreement, overriding legislative proceedings and undermining Taiwanese democracy.
The party said it could not take the pact lightly because it would impact thousands of industries and millions of jobs in the nation.
The DPP said it would support and protect the students, who have set a deadline of noon today for Ma to meet their demands, as long as the protest persists.
Meanwhile, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is urging US President Barack Obama and the US Congress to express their “strong concern” to Taipei about the government’s efforts to force the cross-strait service trade agreement through the legislature.
“The present heavy-handed approach is harmful to the country’s democracy,” a statement issued by the Washington-based Taiwanese-American organization said.
“The KMT government and the Legislative Yuan urgently need to have an orderly clause-by-clause process to review the agreement,” it said. “As this trade agreement is an international legal instrument, it should be treated as such and receive formal approval by the legislature.”
“FAPA will raise this issue with its contacts in the US Congress and the US Government and urge both to convey their strong concerns to the Taiwan authorities about these undemocratic procedures,” it said.
Additional reporting by William Lowther
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