Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Activists demand debate on supervisory articles

SUNFLOWER REVIVAL:The activists said the Sunflower movement is not finished yet and that they are extremely anxious about where the DPP’s trade policy is going

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang, second right, Sunflower movement leader Lin Fei-fan, center, and other campaigners yesterday make demands in Taipei related to the cross-strait agreement oversight bill.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Sunflower movement activists yesterday threatened to escalate protests if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) refuses to engage in open debate over “supervisory articles” for negotiations with China, demanding that the party address flaws in its proposed draft legislation.

Protesters from about 20 civic groups gathered in front of the Legislative Yuan’s front gate, shouting their rejection of “fake” legislative supervision of negotiations with China.

“The Sunflower movement is not finished yet — we are extremely anxious about where DPP trade policy is going,” Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said, adding that premier-designate Lin Chuan (林全) promised to move forward with the cross-strait service trade agreement and trade in goods agreement.

Lai’s organization spearheaded early opposition to the service trade agreement, which culminated in the Legislative Yuan being surrounded by protesters for three weeks during 2014’s Sunflower movement, after the main legislative chamber was occupied by student activists. Passing supervisory regulations to address opaque “black box” negotiations with China by guaranteeing legislative oversight and civic participation was a key demand of the movement.

The relatively “flexible” and “loose” version of supervisory regulations proposed by the DPP caucus — which would not be applied retroactively to past agreements or negotiations already underway — raised questions about whether they were laying a path for continuing President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) China trade policy, Lai said, calling for the DPP and New Power Party (NPP) caucuses to respond to activists’ objections within a week, and to hold open dialogues and debates over differences in opinion.

The protesters said the draft legislation was too weak to guarantee legislative supervisory powers, meaningful civil participation or rigorous review of the effect of agreements. They also criticized it for failing to include special standards for sovereignty-related negotiations and also for using language referring to Taiwan as an “area” instead of a nation.

“If the DPP intends to take a different course [from Ma’s administration], it should not use previous methods of dealing with the objections raised by civil society,” former Sunflower movement spokesman Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) said, blasting DPP legislators for allegedly claiming that activists’ objections were the result of “misunderstandings.”

“I think some of the demands are because of a lack of understanding [of DPP draft legislation] while others are because of genuine differences of opinion,” said DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), who met with protesters on behalf of the DPP caucus.

While NPP legislators Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) and Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) accepted the protesters’ demands for open discussions and debate, Lee said his party’s caucus believed it was important to follow Legislative Yuan procedures for reviewing legislation.

“We will seek to work in opinions from all parties and invite everyone to participate in public hearings to fully express their views,” he said.

His remarks drew cries of “not satisfied” from protesters, with Lin saying that a “public hearing” would not satisfy protesters’ demands for an open debate and promising to return to “get an answer” if the DPP fails to respond within a week.

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