Sun, Mar 30, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Stand up for your democracy: protesters

ACTION STATIONS:Taiwanese protesting the service trade pact must show today that they are not a minority, but deeply worried about their country, protesters said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Protesters occupying the legislative chamber watch President Ma Ying-jeou’s press conference at the Presidential Office to address the protesters’ demands yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Student protesters occupying the legislative chamber in protest against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact last night denounced a press conference President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) held earlier in the day in response to their demands. The students said Ma’s comments lacked both substance and sincerity.

Student protest leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) said that Ma “has apparently refused our main request, which is to institutionalize a special law for the oversight of cross-strait agreements before reviewing the cross-strait service trade pact.”

“By snubbing this demand, the Ma administration has refused the public’s right to amend or veto the agreement. Without the institutionalization of a monitoring mechanism, no one knows by what process the pact would be reviewed,” Lin said.

Ma’s response to the request for a citizens’ constitutional conference was incomplete, he said.

Lin said the conference was proposed because the country is facing a constitutional crisis brought about by “an unchecked executive power and a legislative power kidnapped by [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)] discipline and [our] electoral system, which is unresponsive to public opinion.”

The students also criticized Ma for backing statements by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun’s (王卓鈞) that forcefully evicting students from the Executive Yuan early on Monday morning — an action in which scores of students and police officers were injured — had been “completely legal.”

“With none of our four requests receiving substantial and concrete promises, we will, as planned, stage a peaceful, adamant demonstration tomorrow [today], and cannot but continue our movement,” Lin said.

Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), another student leader, said that Ma was “repeating himself.”

“What the president proposed was only allowing us to take a look at the pact, but not to review it in substantial terms [with the possibility of changing clauses],” he said. “What we are asking is to legislate first [for a cross-strait agreement oversight act] before reviewing the pact, but President Ma said the two can take place simultaneously. This will only repeat the history of KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung’s (張慶忠) 30-second ramming-through [of the service-trade pact].”

“What we mean by ‘the retraction of the cross-strait service trade agreement’ is to have the pact sent back to the Executive Yuan and to also make room for a citizens’ constitutional conference to participate in the review process,” Chen said.

Earlier in the day, the protest leaders said that all members of the public nationwide have to stand up today for their democratic rights and the survival of their hard-won democracy.

Joined by scores of representatives of non-governmental organizations, the protesters told a morning press conference that the rally today in Taipei would be a non-violent one and they cautioned the police against going overboard to enforce the law.

As the students’ occupation of the Legislative Yuan continued into the 12th day, “the government is still ignoring our demand for the institutionalization of a cross-strait agreement oversight mechanism and responding by besmirching our cause and talking nonsense,” the students and civil groups said.

“We will show through the 3/30 Ketagalan Boulevard demonstration that we are not a minority and not a violent mob, but a group of citizens who are deeply worried about our country’s crisis of constitutionalism,” the protesters said in a statement.

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