President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that the review of the cross-strait service trade agreement in the legislature could entail revisions to its contents because lawmakers can table motions to be voted on during the clause-by-clause review.
Ma’s remarks during a meeting with a group of Taiwanese businesspeople based overseas, differed from what he had said in the past that the agreement must be ratified by the legislature without a single change.
“People with dissenting views about the pact can propose motions to revise its content and lawmakers can vote on the motions. We hope that disputes can be resolved in a democratic and peaceful way,” Ma said.
The government has said that if the Legislative Yuan changes anything in the agreement, it will have to renegotiate the terms with China.
The agreement, signed without public knowledge of its contents in June last year, has faced strong opposition, culminating in the student-led protests and occupation of the Legislative Yuan after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung’s (張慶忠) move on March 17 to send the pact directly from committee review to the legislative floor for a vote on the pact as a package in 30 seconds.
“We have learned a lot” from the protest, Ma said, vowing to improve government communication with the public about future cross-strait agreements.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) has promised protesters that he would not call any more interparty negotiations about the service trade pact until a bill establishing an oversight mechanism for cross-strait agreements is passed.
Wang’s promise could delay review of the service trade pact, but Ma has also said that the pact and the oversight bill can be reviewed at the same time.