A review of the cross-strait service trade agreement by the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee, which was scheduled for yesterday morning, was blocked by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators who occupied the meeting room, locked the door and prevented their Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) colleagues and the meeting convener, Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), from entering the room.
“Legislation before reviewing,” DPP lawmakers chanted, while their KMT counterparts shouted: “Start the meeting now,” before the two sides started pushing and shoving each other at about 9am, when KMT legislators arrived outside the meeting room for the review.
Echoing demands from protesters occupying the legislative chamber, DPP legislators wanted the legislature to adopt a law to monitor cross-strait agreements before beginning to review the trade pact.
Meanwhile, KMT lawmakers insisted on going into the room to start the meeting and the two sides clashed, verbally and physically, in the confined space between the doors of elevators and doors leading to the meeting room.
Several DPP legislators have occupied the meeting room since Tuesday night and began a sit-in in front of the doors to block the entrance at about 7:20am yesterday.
“In a committee meeting presided over by [DPP] Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), we made the decision that we should enact legislation to monitor cross-strait agreements before reviewing the service trade pact. It is therefore illegitimate for Chang to schedule a review of the pact for today [yesterday],” DPP Legislator Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) told reporters outside the venue.
“Furthermore, after the 30-second controversy [on March 17], it is no longer suitable for Chang to schedule a review of the trade pact,” he added.
Kao was referring to Chang’s announcement on March 17 as chair of a committee meeting that the controversial service trade pact had passed committee review and would be forwarded to the general assembly. This led to physical clashes between lawmakers of the two political camps, and triggered protests by students and their occupation of the legislative floor.
Responding to Kao, Chang said that he feels like a child who has done something wrong and urged his colleagues to “give me another chance to show my goodwill by presiding over a clause-by-clause review of the trade pact.”
Unable to start the meeting as DPP legislators continued to block the entrance, Chang later announced that he would change the agenda to review the Election and Recall Act for Public Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) and the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法) this afternoon.