SUNFLOWER ANNIVERSARY: Executive Yuan hosts live-streamed forum

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 19, 2015 - Page 3

On the anniversary of last year’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber in Taipei, sparked by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) attempt to push through the cross-strait service trade agreement, the Executive Yuan held a live-streamed program that was open to questions on a proposed cross-strait agreement oversight mechanism and called for solidarity with younger generations with the slogan: “We are one family.”

The Executive Yuan posted the title of the program on its official Facebook page: “Realizing cross-generational justice; marching forward hand-in-hand,” saying Taiwan’s democracy has “moved a step forward” in communication since the Sunflower movement.

“Looking back to the same time exactly a year ago, people had different opinions about cross-strait economic and trade affairs, which subsequently triggered a series of civil activities,” the post said. “Although a few regrettable incidents occurred, it is laudable that Taiwanese society has — through the expression and communication of diverse views — shown that it is a cultivated democracy.”

In the statement on Facebook, but not on the Executive Yuan’s official Web page, it said that the government has “reflected on the event and felt society’s yearning for changes and the younger generation’s anxiety about the future.”

Other than listing measures targeting young people and aiming to transform the government into an open one that the Executive Yuan has been promoting in the past few months, it claimed to have proposed — as a concrete response to the public’s demands — a draft bill for handling cross-strait agreements.

While the oversight bill proposed by the Executive Yuan has been criticized as an “oversight-free” bill, the agency has continued to advertise it.

Yesterday’s program, hosted by Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群), aired from 7pm to 8pm and featured Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言).

Hsia denied that the oversight bill proposed by the Executive Yuan lacks teeth.

“The strict oversight mechanism bills tabled [by civic groups] are only for self-gratification,” Hsia said, insinuating that they are too rigorous to be effective in facilitating negotiations.

Although viewers could comment in a chat room that ran alongside the program as it was streamed on YouTube, the interaction was not immediate and for the first 40 minutes of the show, appeared to be mostly one-way policy promotion.

Wang Yi-kai (王奕凱), an active participant of the Sunflower movement, said earlier in the week that the Executive Yuan had invited him and several other activists, along with two citizen journalists, to the show.

“Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) proposed it and the MAC agreed, but the idea was opposed in a meeting,” Wang said on Facebook. “They refused to tell us who objected, but the reason was that it is not suitable to discuss [the bill] publicly.”

Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said his administration is prepared to engage in open and active discourse and listen to the opinions of people from all walks of life.

Ma believes the anniversary of the Sunflower movement protests offers the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and review, Chen added.

In a democratic society like Taiwan, “any political demands proposed on the basis of the law should be fully respected,” Chen quoted Ma as saying. “The government and civil society should not stand against each other.”

The two should work together to promote social reform, Chen quoted Ma as saying.

Additional reporting by CNA