One day after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) delivered a pledge that could substantially delay the review of the cross-strait service trade agreement by the legislature, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) met with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers last night to devise a response.
Wang on Sunday promised the Sunflower movement students occupying the legislative chamber he would not convene any inter-party negotiations on the pact before the legislature enacts a law to monitor cross-strait negotiations and agreements, which many believe would effectively freeze the pact, the status of which has been disputed among lawmakers during the legislative process.
Wang’s offer was welcomed by the students, who have demanded that a mechanism to monitor cross-strait talks be established before a review of the pact begins, but the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan both said that they had been taken surprise by Wang’s statement.
Some KMT lawmakers said they felt “betrayed” by Wang.
KMT lawmakers were ordered to attend the caucus meeting at 6pm yesterday at the party’s headquarters presided over by Ma, who is also KMT chairman, and attended by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) or face party discipline.
Earlier yesterday, some KMT lawmakers voiced their support for Wang.
Those who cannot come up with better ways to resolve the situation than the one Wang offered should “shut up,” KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順).
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) suggested that a referendum be called to decide the fate of the pact because it would be naive to think that the agreement would be ratified by the legislature after the Sunflower movement.
Late last night, after the students announced that they would leave the legislative chamber at 6pm on Thursday, Ma issued a statement commending the students’ decision.
Returning the legislature to normal operation so lawmakers can review bills concerning people’s livelihoods met the public’s expectations, Ma said.
Ma said that Wang’s pledge did not conflict with the government’s position that the agreement should be reviewed article-by-article in the legislature.
However, Ma and Jiang both reiterated that the legislature should continue its review of the service trade agreement while it deliberates the proposed legislation on establishing a monitoring mechanism for cross-strait negotiations.
If an oversight bill has to be enacted before the cross-strait service trade agreement can be reviewed, “we can only expect to see the economy decline” from now until 2016 because it could take as long as two years to pass the bill, Jiang said.
The delay in ratifying the service trade agreement could negatively affect cross-strait negotiations on trade in goods and hinder the nation’s bid to join the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Jiang said.
Ma called on KMT lawmakers to enact an oversight bill before the legislative session ends in the middle of the year.
He also urged opposition lawmakers not to boycott the service trade pact, saying that otherwise, they would not meet the public’s expectations.