Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - Page 3 News List

NPP ignores summons over protest

RIGHT TO PROTEST:The party called on President Tsai Ing-wen to honor her 2008 promise to amend the Assembly and Parade Act to remove restrictions on rallies

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

New Power Party legislators Huang Kuo-chang, left, and Hsu Yung-ming hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday to criticize President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration for continuing to use the Assembly and Parade Act against peaceful protesters, after they both received court summonses.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The New Power Party will ignore a police summons for questioning over the party’s protest in front of the Presidential Office Building last month, NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) and NPP Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said yesterday, urging the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to amend the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) soon.

NPP legislators — including Huang, Hsu, Kawlo Iyun Pacidal, Hung Tsu-yung (洪慈庸) and Freddy Lim (林昶佐) — had launched a hunger strike on Jan. 5 to protest the DPP’s proposed amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which would allow employees to work longer with less overtime pay.

The protest went on for four days in front of the Presidential Office Building — where rallies are restricted — until police evicted them on Jan. 8.

On Friday last week, Huang, Hsu and Lim received summonses for questioning at the Taipei Police Department’s Zhongzheng District First Precinct yesterday and today on suspicion of violating the Assembly and Parade Act.

“We were not surprised when we received the summonses, because of the government’s previous uncompromising attitude and disproportionate response to our protest,” Hsu said, referring to the government’s decision to erect barricades and barbed wires around the Presidential Office Building that fenced off a large area of about 300km2 when their protest began.

In 2008, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who was the DPP chairperson at the time, apologized for not having amended the Assembly and Parade Act in the past eight years when the party was in power and vowed to safeguard people’s rights to rally and demonstrate, Hsu said.

Later, under former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the DPP proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act that would remove articles that restrict rallies and demonstrations near the Presidential Office Building, Hsu said.

However, once voted back into power, the DPP is finding the restrictions “very important and useful,” he said, adding that he found it “very sad.”

The draft amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act have already passed committee reviews, and the DPP should help ensure that they pass the second and third readings as soon as possible, Hsu said.

The current act restricts people’s rights to rally and demonstrate even though such rights are protected by the Constitution, Huang said.

He described the police summons as a form of “harassment” and emphasized that he would not attend the questioning.

“They can get a prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant if they really think something so meaningless as this is worth wasting judicial resources,” he added.

The NPP has already pressed charges against officials responsible for evicting its legislators for restricting personal freedom, coercion and property damage, lawyer Ting Wen-sheng (丁穩勝) said.

Hopefully, the ruling party will realize that the Assembly and Parade Act should not be used to prevent people from exercising their rights, he added.

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