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Opposition ready to protest cross-strait pact

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expressed readiness to protest against the cross-strait trade pact after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) yesterday announced the possibility that the pact could be reviewed in the Legislative Yuan next week.

The Legislative Yuan's second annual session is drawing to a close, and legislators are gearing up to review proposals, amendments and yet-to-be implemented agreements before next year's session. One such example is the cross-strait services trade pact inked in June, which opened numerous service sectors in Taiwan and China.

As the pact's contents did not include a date of implementation, it can only be carried out after the Legislature has reviewed it and voted for approval. Before the actual review happens, the Legislature must schedule 20 public hearings for the benefit of industries that may be affected by the pact. Final hearings are slated to occur by March 2014, but KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) announced that the review of the pact may be scheduled for next week's session, three months before the pre-agreed time.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) responded to Chang's statement with a threat. “If (the KMT) tries to force a review, I will be there to stage a protest with hammers. We'll see about this,” said Chen.

Chang declared that he finished conducting the hearing which he had chaired; the remaining three were left to the DPP's Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康). “I plan on holding the review on Dec. 25 and 26; we would fail the people if we didn't schedule the review,” said Chang.

DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) retorted by saying that the Legislature cannot carry out the review by force. It should first address unsettled issues related to the pact, including a need to determine regulations for Chinese industries set to come to Taiwan and mapping out the potential impact that the agreement poses to local sectors. “The review will come after,” said Cheng.

Hearings Uncover Government Slip-ups

According to Chen, the hearings held so far have revealed many problems stemming from the pact's signing, including contradictory government announcements on the agreement, and authorities' inability to properly estimate the potential impact of the agreement. “How can the Legislature review the pact in this situation?” demanded Chen.

Chang said he would be willing to apologize if he had failed to schedule a satisfactory session schedule, but if the public supports his cause he hopes the DPP will speed up the hearings.

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