The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday launched a 120-hour protest in the legislature to demand that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration reverse its unpopular policies.
The caucus began its occupation of the podium at 7am to stop the session from taking place and demanded Ma withdraw the increase in electricity prices and retain the ban on US beef imports containing ractopamine.
“The protest will last five days and four nights, or about 120 hours, and it represents the DPP’s firm position on the electricity price hike and the US beef controversies,” DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) told a press conference.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said the party’s three legislators would join the protest.
The current legislative session entered its final week yesterday.
In a press release issued yesterday afternoon, DPP Chairperson Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he supported the action and urged Ma to “correct his mistakes” by calling off the electricity price increase.
DPP lawmakers assembled on the legislative floor two hours before the session was scheduled to begin, occupying the podium and decorating the assembly room with banners and posters.
Lawmakers will occupy the legislature in three shifts each day, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.
Several controversial bills were scheduled to be voted on from yesterday to Friday in the last week of the current session.
Among them are amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), which is scheduled to be voted on today and would pave the way for imports of beef containing ractopamine residue; amendments to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) which are related to the capital gains tax on stock transactions as well as approval of National -Communications -Commission nominees.
The opposition is also looking to reverse the electricity price increases which took effect on Sunday, with proposals that electricity prices be frozen.
However, the majority Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) showed no signs of backing down on any proposals, especially the US beef issue, which Ma said needed to be resolved as soon as possible so Trade and Investment Framework Agreement negotiations between Taiwan and the US can resume.
The KMT’s stubbornness in implementing the wrong policies was why the opposition was resorting to the protest, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.
People First Party (PFP) Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said his party fully supported the DPP against the KMT on the controversial issues.
“We demand that the US beef issue be dealt with in an extra session after the Codex Alimentarius Commission has decided whether to adopt a maximum residue level [MRLs] for ractopamine in its 35th session, to be held in Rome from July 2 through July 7,” he said.
The PFP also filed a complaint with the Control Yuan demanding ombudsmen investigate the increase in electricity prices, which the party said was made in violation of the Act of State-Owned Enterprises (國營事業管理法) and the Electricity Act (電業法).
The KMT called a caucus meeting at noon to brainstorm strategies to circumvent the boycott.
“As long as a vote on the US beef issue is held, I am sure we will win comfortably,” KMT caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said.
Wu said the number of KMT lawmakers who were hesitant about supporting the government’s plan to partially lift the ban on imports of US meat containing ractopamine had fallen from 12 to three.