Sunflower movement students and other activists yesterday rejected a proposal by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to hold a national affairs conference on economics and trade instead of the citizens’ constitutional conference they had called for, saying it was a “typical Ma tactic of superficial promises and substantial lies.”
Student leaders and civic groups say a citizens’ constitutional conference is needed because the nation’s current constitutional crisis and malfunctioning government.
They announced “three undesirable and three demands” at a morning press conference in Taipei in response to Ma’s initiative.
Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) are at the root of the current troubles and are not qualified to convene such a conference, student leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) said.
The protesters also opposed the government’s attempt to focus the meeting on trade-related issues and invite mostly business groups.
Businesspeople have been given too much influence and dominance in policymaking in the past, Lin said, adding that the reforms the protesters are demanding cover more than just trade.
The protesters said the students and civic groups in the Sunflower movement should be playing an integral role in a constitutional conference, which would focus on the constitutional system, the electoral and party system, cross-strait relations, social justice and basic human rights, among other topics.
If such a conference was held, its recommendations should be binding on government agencies and be implemented, not ignored and forgotten, they said.
The students also criticized Ma’s remarks on Tuesday about the service trade pact, which he compared to a marriage and said that “if either of the two sides was not happy with the marriage, there would always be the option of filing for divorce.”
“The comments showed that while Ma has kept saying that he was open for a bilateral dialogue, he continues to insist that the pact must not be revised and must take effect. That is exactly the opposite of what we have called for,” the Sunflower movement said in a press release.
The statement also criticized Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung’s (張慶忠) decision yesterday to place the service trade pact on the agenda of a joint review committee in the Legislative Yuan.
It also expressed disappointment over KMT lawmakers’ refusal to promise that they would push for a mechanism to monitor cross-strait agreements, refrain from reviewing the pact before the mechanism is established and not boycott the legislation proposal in the legislature’s Procedure Committee.
A letter of commitment to those three demands has been signed by 48 lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party.
None of the KMT’s 65 legislators have signed the letter.