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Activists set conditions to dialogue with Ma Ying-jeou

Publication Date : 26-03-2014


The Presidential Office yesterday reached out to student activists occupying the Legislative Yuan to set up a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and one of their representatives.

The president is willing to invite a representative of the student activists to the Presidential Office in order to communicate and find a way to restore order to the Legislature, Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said.

On March 18, student activists stormed the Legislature and seized control of its main chamber in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from voting on the controversial Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement. By the following day, thousands of protesters had surrounded the complex.

The Legislature's Assembly Hall has been incapacitated, affecting parliamentary procedures, Li pointed out, adding that the president is willing to invite a student representative to the Presidential Office to discuss the cross-strait service trade pact.

Different sectors of society have different opinions on the pact, but the administration has always maintained an open attitude and a willingness to communicate, Li quoted the president as saying.

Despite the fact that people tried to storm the Executive Yuan on March 23, the president still hopes to communicate with the protesters on the principles of democracy and rationality, Li added.

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng has been arranging cross-caucus negotiations, and the president respects the legislature's autonomy, but for the sake of national stability, the president and the executive has been actively seeking different solutions in order to bring closure to the controversy and restore order to the Legislature, aiming to fulfill the expectations of the nation's majority, the spokeswoman said.

Students accept with conditions

Students occupying the Legislative Yuan have agreed to the Ma administration's offer to open dialogue with conditions concerning the contents of the conference, also hoping for an oversight law to be passed regarding cross-strait agreements, said student activist leader Lin Fei-fan yesterday.

A week after seizing the Legislative Yuan, the protesting students have been calling for Ma to apologise for the questionable manner in which the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement was passed and for the pact to be withdrawn. Ma initially issued a statement that consented only to review the agreement clause-by-clause, to which the students replied that Ma had no sincerity in negotiating with them.

The presidential office previously stated that with the students' conditions, talks between the protesters and the government would not be possible. The remark was seconded by Premier Jiang Yi-huah after an unsuccessful attempt to talk with the student leaders on Saturday.

Although the students decided to accept the president's offer, they were not willing to make simple talk with him that was of no actual importance, said Lin.

Student activist leader Chen Wei-ting said that the meeting with Ma should be based on the two topics that have raised many questions in the public. “We hope to discuss whether an oversight law for cross-strait pacts should be passed, and if it is essential for the law to be passed before the pact's deliberation,” said Lin.

“We are still firm that the supervisory law should be passed first and the pact reviewed afterwards,” said Chen. “We are willing to talk to President Ma, hopefully in a public and open venue like the front doors of the Presidential Office facing Ketagelan Boulevard, allowing more citizen groups to join the discussion.”

Chen stated later that Ma should stop controlling the Kuomintang legislators via the party regulations after the cross-party negotiations once again failed to reach a consensus on the protests and the pact.


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