Protesters besiege KMT offices nationwide

RANK AND FILE::Protesters in Kaohsiung, Taichung and Kinmen and Miaoli counties came out in a show of force to besiege local KMT offices in support of the students

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - Page 1

Student protesters have taken their campaign against the cross-strait service trade agreement nationwide.

Demonstrators launched sit-in protests outside Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) local offices nationwide yesterday, after students in Taipei called for their siege of the party to spread beyond the legislature after their demands were not met on Friday.

Dozens of students began their sit-ins in Greater Kaohsiung on Friday night, with more people heading to the KMT’s Greater Kaohsiung chapter office throughout yesterday to support the Taipei students, who have been occupying the Legislative chamber since Tuesday night.

“Anti-service trade pact; save Taiwan,” “[Premier] Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) is chicken, [President] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) come out and face the people,” the protesters chanted.

In Greater Taichung, about 100 people had gathered as of noon yesterday in front of the KMT’s office, carrying sunflowers as the symbol of the student movement against the cross-strait service trade agreement.

The students have accused the party of non-transparency and of trying to push the pact through the legislature without a thorough review in the committees.

They also fear the pact could hurt small and medium-sized businesses and Taiwanese livelihoods, and make the nation more vulnerable to reunification pressures from Beijing.

The Ma government has insisted the agreement will benefit the economy, create jobs and give the nation crucial access to China’s vast market.

In Miaoli County, fruit farmers protested outside the KMT office, saying they believe the government failed to be transparent in handling the accord.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Organization Department has issued a notice to its local chapters asking members, elected officials and election hopefuls not to bring or wear to the sites anything bearing the party branding, such as flags, or their personal campaign slogans.

The students have demanded that an attempt by KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) to rush the service trade agreement through a committee review on Tuesday must be nullified.

They are further asking Ma to engage in dialogue with the public in withdrawing the accord, and to promise that no more agreements will be passed before a law governing supervision of agreements across the Taiwan Strait is passed.