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.
“I admire you [students] for showing concern about current issues and bravely voicing your views,” the letter read. “I fully respect your decision if you choose to skip class to join the protest.”
Meanwhile, to ensure the health of the protesters and handle any medical emergencies, about 15 physicians, nurses and pharmacists were on standby at the Legislative Yuan.
“There are physicians, pharmacists and nurses here to handle simple medical needs,” physician Lin Hsin-jung (林信榮) said from the legislature. “Most of our medical supplies were donated by the public or lawmakers, and we [the medical professionals] are here voluntarily to show our support.”
The Taipei-based Legal Aid Foundation’s and the Judicial Reform Foundation have also offered their services to the protesters should they be arrested by police, urging the students to call (02) 3393-8666 for information about legal aid.
Within 24 hours of the hotline being set up, more than 100 lawyers had volunteered to help represent the activists in case of arrests, including Wellington Koo (顧立雄), a Democratic Progressive Party hopeful for the Taipei mayoral poll; Liu Chi-wei (劉繼蔚), who represented late army corporal Hung Chung-chiu’s (洪仲丘) family; and Tseng Wei-kai (曾威凱), who has represented Hualon Corp’s (華隆) laid-off workers.
Additional reporting by Ching Jen-hao