A coalition which calls itself the Free Taiwan Front (自由台灣陣線), consisting of mainly pro-independence youth and civil groups who represent a more hawkish perspective in the student movement, said they would be staying in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to continue supervising the institutionalization of a cross-strait agreement oversight mechanism after the students leave the legislative chamber tomorrow.
Immediately following the Sunflower movement’s announcement on Monday evening that the occupation of the legislative chamber would end tomorrow, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) issued statements reiterating that the agenda for reviewing the cross-strait service trade agreement could not be hindered by the institutionalization of the oversight mechanism and that it is “impossible” to retract the pact.
“Their statements showed that the movement’s demands have not at all been met and were tantamount to a slap in the public’s face,” the Free Taiwan Front said yesterday. “Therefore, we will respond to the movement’s call to ‘turn defense into attack’ by staying outside the legislature’s front door to keep exerting pressure.”
The coalition said those in the occupied legislative chamber are aware of and respect its decision.
“Our core values are no different from those held by those inside [the legislature],” Free Taiwan Front convener Chen Tzu-yu (陳子瑜) said.
The coalition regards the cross-strait service trade agreement dispute as one that concerns not only commerce, trade and politics, but also “stems from empty articles in the Republic of China Constitution and the resulting distorted cross-strait relationship.”
“It is for this reason that [Taiwan] is not able to deal with the dispute as a normal country with clear legal regulations,” Chen said.
Chen called on the Ma administration to clarify what it meant by describing the cross-strait relationship as one that is not to be framed as “state-to-state.”
“Does this relationship, according to them, fall under the framework of the internationally recognized People’s Republic of China or that of the largely unrecognized Republic of China?” he asked.
Yoshi Liu (劉敬文), spokesman of the Radical Flank (基進側翼), one of the groups in the coalition, also demanded that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) elucidate on his promise to “legislate first, negotiate next.”
It could either be a negotiation over the controversial 30-second passage of the trade pact on March 17 or over the validity of the resolution to have the pact returned to the Executive Yuan passed by the joint committee meeting presided over by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) on March 24, Liu said.
If it was the former, there is a risk that the pact could be directly sent to the legislative floor for a simple show of hands after the negotiation, “an action that corresponds with Ma’s stance,” Liu added.
The coalition is also championing the recall of some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers.
Award-winning author Neil Peng (馮光遠), who is a member of the Constitution 133 Alliance that launched a failed attempt to recall KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) earlier this year, was present at the press conference, saying that the recall campaign is restarting and asking people to stay alert to lawmakers’ moves to raise the recall threshold.
Continuing to monitor the Control Yuan’s investigation into Jiang and the state’s use of violence and the government’s policy on the free economic pilot zones would also be part of the coalition’s plans, it said.
The coalition called on the public to join their “passerby” protest on Friday in front of the headquarters of CTi Television, the cable TV network owned by pro-unification Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) and deemed by many protesters to be biased, and a subsequent march to the office of KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖).