Responding to criticism in a newspaper article that the security measures put in place around the legislature are tantamount to “guarding against people as if they were thieves,” Legislative Yuan Secretary-General Lin Chi-chia (林志嘉) yesterday said that the measures are intended to prevent those working in the building from being harmed by any conflicts that might arise between petitioning and protesting groups.
An article in the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday said that while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has vowed to guarantee a more open parliament, “iron barricades and security cameras are the new scenery around the building, indicating a more heavily fortified legislature.”
Asian bayberry trees were planted around the legislative compound immediately after the Sunflower movement protests ended, and after three years the plants are now more than 3m tall, the report said.
While during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) tenure barbed wire barricades were set up, the new administration has “invented a new method; forming an additional wall outside the Legislative Yuan compound by stacking up iron barricades,” the report said.
Over the past three years, not only has the number of closed-circuit TV cameras increased, but an iron gate has been installed on the building that houses DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming’s (柯建銘) office, which was stormed by protesters in November last year while amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) were being passed, the report said.
While people are free to express their opinions and hold demonstrations in democratic societies, “there are plenty of petitioning groups with different views surrounding the legislature and sometimes conflicts are inevitable. To prevent such conflicts affecting those working in the legislature, a certain level of security is required,” Lin said.
“The measures were taken out of safety concerns rather than to ‘guard against thieves’ as the media have alleged,” he said, adding that they have not impeded groups petitioning lawmakers.