Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: Protesters begin clean-up ahead of planned exit

RESTORATION WORK:Amid reports that returning the legislature to normal could cost NT$100 million, a Facebook appeal for public donations has been launched

By Jennifer Huang  /  Staff reporter

Medical personnel yesterday begin to remove their equipment from the Legislative Yuan in Taipei ahead of tomorrow’s planned withdrawal of student protesters from the legislative chamber.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Student protesters occupying the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber yesterday began cleaning up the room, following their leaders’ announcement on Monday night that they plan to withdraw from the legislature at 6 pm tomorrow.

Some students vacuumed the carpet, rolled up sleeping bags and rearranged the furniture, while others cleaned the desks and podium, taking down the posters and banners plastered around the chamber after protesters began their occupation on March 18 to protest the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact.

A Facebook page was set up early yesterday morning by netizens who support the Sunflower movement, calling for public help and donations to repair and pay for any damage to the legislature.

Titled “Repairing 318 Legislative Yuan,” the page went online just a few hours after the student leaders of the protest announced their withdrawal plan.

Legislative Yuan staffers have previously said that the student occupation damaged chairs, doors, carpets microphones, the broadcasting system and some valuable paintings. Some local media reports have quoted unnamed sources as saying the repairs and clean-up operation could cost more than NT$100 million (US$3.3 million).

Employees of the Legislative Yuan’s General Affairs Department yesterday entered the main chamber to begin assessing the damage.

Unconvinced by reports of multimillion dollar estimates, the “Repairing 318 Legislative Yuan” Facebook page asked construction, engineering, design and broadcasting experts to assess the venue and help give their own estimates for repair jobs.

The page has received several fervent responses, with one netizen saying that “the student protesters have written a new chapter in Taiwan’s history and pushed your future and mine in a good direction. In return, they faced legal charges and the burden of hefty repair bills.”

While some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers have said that the government should not use taxpayers’ money to cover the restoration costs, General Affairs Department head Tsai Wei-min (蔡衛民) turned down the offer from netizens to help pay, saying the legislature will take care of the operation.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Service Agreement yesterday appealed for public donations, saying the student protest movement is NT$2.53 million in debt as of Monday.

A netizen named “omanorboyo” reposted the request on the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board — saying: “It is time for us to come forward, at least so the students can exit honorably, without [financial] burdens.”

Additional reporting by CNA

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