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June 24, 2017

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There can still be surprises at the Legislative Yuan

There was a collective sigh of relief on Monday after representatives of the Sunflower student movement announced they will end their occupation of the Legislative Yuan Assembly Hall today. There are talks of a "glorious exit" for movement activists, discussions of legal responsibilities the leading protesters might face, the follow-up of the mainly student-led movement and its implications for Taiwanese politics and cross-strait relations.

The scheduled end of the Legislature occupation at 6 p.m. today, however, might not proceed as smoothly as the activist representatives announced. The illegal yet widely accepted tactic of holding hostage a governmental building has blurred the boundary of what is acceptable in Taiwan's society and has created unpredictable consequences.

Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), one of the representatives of the movement, suggested Tuesday that the students might consider storming the Presidential Office if the Legislative Yuan passes the Cabinet version of a statute for the supervision of the handling of cross-strait pacts.

There are already vocal opponents against ending the occupation within the Sunflower movement. After the activists' announced their exit strategy on Monday, a self-proclaimed member of the occupation publicly decried the decision makers for engaging in backroom politics.

The leadership's remarkable decision to allow the disagreeing member's tirade at the televised event defused the crisis of division. The member ended his disapproving speech with an acknowledgement of the decision makers' hard work.

The tension with the hard-line faction of the activists, however, is not completely gone. In a protester-held YouTube live-streamed "Intestine Flower" forum (大腸花, a mockery of the Sunflower [太陽花] movement) outside the Legislative Yuan, protesters criticized the decision makers' "fascist" leadership and vowed not to leave the Legislature today.

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