The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday “severely condemned” students’ occupation of the legislative chamber, saying the students were misled by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaders who deliberately instigated the movement by framing the KMT for rejecting a line-by-line review of the cross-strait service trade agreement.
“A handful of DPP people misled students and the public into illegally staging the occupation. That deserves our harshest condemnation,” KMT Policy Committee chief executive and caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) told a press conference.
The continued occupation of the legislative chamber and protest inside the legislative compound involving thousands of students and others that began on Tuesday evening was prompted by the KMT’s ruling that the trade pact had cleared the committee stage when the party took charge of a policy meeting on Monday.
At the meeting, committee convener Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) of the KMT said that the trade pact had passed the committee and sent it to a plenary session for a second reading, sparking a melee among lawmakers over the review procedure.
Lin said criticism that the KMT was opposed to reviewing the pact at the committee clause-by-clause was unfounded, as the party had agreed to the measure previously.
“We had no choice but to send it directly to a second reading. The DPP left us no alternative. It is really unbearable,” Lin said.
“The KMT was completely fine with a line-by-line review and the students were misled,” Lin added.
Chang scheduled the review on Monday after KMT lawmakers blocked a screening of the trade pact on Wednesday and Thursday last week, when the committee was presided over by DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).
“The DPP had no intention of reviewing the trade pact, but wanted to kill it,” Lin said.
“We had to move it beyond the committee stage as a last resort to push it through because the trade pact is a matter of life or death for economic development,” he added.
KMT legislative caucus whip Wang Ting-son (王廷升) said that some DPP leaders were behind the protest, implicating DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), to boost their chances in the upcoming party chair election.
“The DPP heavyweights were all present. It is rational to think that the protest got out of hand because of the DPP chairperson election,” Wang said.
Another KMT caucus whip, Alicia Wang (王育敏), said the students “were instigated” by inflammatory remarks made repeatedly by Su over the trade pact.
Lin said that the party had told Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) that the protest should be resolved peacefully.
“We do not want to see any students get hurt, but the masterminds behind the protest — the people who manipulated the students — have hurt them,” he said.
Separately yesterday, People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) called for a halt to the review of the trade pact, saying that all parties should sit down to discuss amendments and supplementary measures that needed to be implemented to protect local industries and people from the harmful effects of trade liberalization.