FOR ALL TO WITNESS:Student protest leaders said a meeting with the president to address the trade pact siege should be held in a public setting
By Alison Hsiao / Staff reporter
Lawyer Lai Chung-chiang, Academia Sinica researcher Huang Kuo-chang and student leaders Chen Wei-ting and Lin Fei-fan, left to right, call for legislation institutionalizing oversight of cross-strait agreements in the occupied chamber of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
The leaders of student protesters occupying the legislative chamber and civic group representatives yesterday agreed to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) without preconditions, as they called for lawmakers’ support for the passage of an act on the oversight of cross-strait agreements.
The protesters made the statement in response to remarks by Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏), who said that Ma is willing to meet with representatives of protesting students “without any preconditions” to help end the standoff over the cross-strait trade agreement and allow the legislature to get back on track.
Lee said Ma is willing to invite representatives of the protesters to the Presidential Office in Taipei to discuss the pact and listen to their views if it will help end the student-led occupation of the legislature that began on Tuesday last week.
Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), a National Taiwan University graduate student and one of the student leaders, said the protesters agreed to have a conversation with Ma without preconditions and proposed two questions that have attracted wide attention for the potential discussion between the two sides.
“The first question is whether there is a need for the institutionalization of the supervision of cross-strait agreements, and the second is whether such a supervision mechanism needs to be in place before reviewing the cross-strait service trade agreement,” Lin said.
Lin added that the students are willing to converse with Ma “in a public setting” and to discuss “in concrete terms” the questions mentioned.
“By the time we get there to have the conversation, we will not want to take extra time to give him a lecture,” Lin said.
Another student leader, Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), a graduate student at National Tsing Hua University, said that the conversation should not be a private one that can be heard only by the representatives, but one that is open to public witness.
The protest leaders and civil group representatives said that the minutes of the latest legislative meeting on March 17, made public yesterday, showed that the review of the trade pact, which according to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers has been completed, was not documented.
It means that the issue has been returned to the legislature’s Internal Administrative Committee pending further discussion, the group said.
“We ask the government not to hold any negotiations with the Chinese government until the institutionalization of the supervision of cross-strait agreements. The trade pact must be returned to the Executive Yuan until such institutionalization is completed,” Chen said.
The group called on legislators to promise to respond to their three requests.
“Our first request is that the legalization of a ‘cross-strait agreement oversight act’ be initiated during this legislative plenary session. The second is that any reviews of cross-strait agreements be held off until legislation is finalized. And finally, that the bill be placed on the legislature’s Procedure Committee agenda,” Chen said.
Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a research fellow at Academia Sinica, said that the call is “aimed at each legislator rather than only at the party caucus.”
While some, mainly the media, have been asking what the protesters’ “exit strategy” is, Lin said: “It is president Ma who needs to have an ‘exit strategy.’”