TRADE PACT SIEGE: Go home, culture minister urges students in chamber

MOVE ON::While praising the students’ organizational abilities, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai said legislators need to go back to work to review a total of 2,235 bills

By Rich Chang and Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporters

Thu, Apr 03, 2014 - Page 4

Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) yesterday praised the creativity and capability students have shown in the Sunflower movement, but said that the thinking behind their actions is not strong and is contradictory.

She urged the students who have occupied the legislative chamber since March 18 to press the government to reconsider the cross-strait service trade agreement to end their occupation and go home.

The student movement has developed into a mass civil movement, with about 500,000 people joining a rally on Sunday.

Lung made the remarks during a question-and-answer session at the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday.

“Social movements have two aspects, action and the theory behind the action. Regarding the action, the students’ ability to organize activities and to promote the events domestically and internationally, their division of labor and the images they have tried to create are incredibly perfect, which is an accumulation of waves of student movements in Taiwan over sixty years. I grade them 100 points. Not only myself, but I believe you also love these young people,” she said.

“I wish those young, talented people worked for the culture ministry,” Lung added.

However, Lung said there was a lack of well-thought-through theory behind the movement, saying that the theory was “weak, full of contradictions and not mature.”

The rule of law is a backbone of democracy, but the students have broken the rule of law, she said.

“They claim to be defenders of democracy, but a democracy must be supported by rule of law. It doesn’t make sense that they are defending democracy through breaking the rule of law,” Lung said.

She said that the students staged the movement as a reaction to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) attempt to pass the pact without due process, but the students themselves have violated procedural justice.

The students are against the government’s “black box,” or opaque, signing of the trade pact, but the most “black box” operations are inter-party negotiations in the legislature, Lung said.

“The students who have been in the legislature do not see it,” she said.

“I would like to hear from the students which clause of the agreement they oppose, and why, and how the students would rebut the arguments from experts and economists who support the pact,” she said.

There are a total of 2,235 bills waiting to be reviewed in the legislature, Lung added.

“Let the legislators who are paid with public money go back to their work and return the assembly hall to the legislature,” she said.

Responding to criticism from Lung that student activists occupying the legislative floor are “strong in action, but weak in their thinking,” student leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) said that Lung is the one who is weak in her thinking.

“What Lung said about uscontradicts her comments about the Wild Lily student movement [野百合學運],” Lin said yesterday.