The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday at a rally threw its support behind the students in the “Occupy the Legislature” movement and said it would refuse to negotiate with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) until President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) apologizes for his handling of the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement.
Almost every senior DPP member attended the rally and called for national support for the student movement, with DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) saying that the occupation was “a right thing to do” and not “a violent act,” as claimed by the KMT and several media outlets.
“We’re not leaving as long as the students are still here,” Su said.
The chairman said that the students were not “politically motivated” by the DPP, as the KMT had claimed.
However, the DPP shared the same values and ideals as the students and that was why it offered its unconditional support to the movement.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said she had been a professor for 15 years and the students’ writing a new chapter in history was one of the most touching experiences in her life.
Tsai also urged Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to skip a meeting with Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) scheduled for 11am.
Both Tsai and former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) said the controversy related to the cross-strait service trade agreement was not a dispute between different branches of the government, but one between Ma and mainstream public opinion.
Yu called for Ma to learn from the example of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who met with the leaders of the Wild Lily student movement in 1990 and listened to what they had to say in a meeting that eventually contributed to legislative reform.
Wang did skip the meeting with the president, urging Ma to respect the voice of the people.
He pledged to convene inter-party negotiations as soon as possible to try to resolve the crisis.
Inter-party negotiation would not be necessary if Ma refuses to apologize and if the agreement is not withdrawn from a plenary session, said DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), who did not attend a meeting of caucus whips that Wang convened at his residence yesterday afternoon.
To avoid interfering with the students’ activities, the DPP mobilized thousands of people across the country to express their support for the students in a rally organized next to the students’ protest site outside of the Legislative Yuan compound in Taipei.
The crowd was visibly smaller than the students’ rally and the party’s introduction of its candidates in the seven-in-one elections drew the ire of nearby students.
Some students said the DPP tried to turn the rally into part of its election campaign.