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Lawmakers should filibuster service trade pact: activists

TAIPEI -- A group of activists on Tuesday urged opposition legislators to block the cross-strait trade in services agreement, especially the sections that would open Taiwan's advertising market to Chinese companies.

The activists' efforts are likely to increase uncertainty over the pact's passage in the Legislative Yuan.

The activists, mainly from Taiwan Democracy Watch and Democratic Front Against Cross Strait Trade in Services Agreement, proposed 100 changes to the agreement and asked lawmakers to help introduce the proposals in the Legislature.

They also suggested that the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party adopt a filibuster strategy to prevent the agreement from clearing the Legislature.

Hsu Wei-chun, convener of Taiwan Democracy Watch, accused President Ma Ying-jeou's administration of attempting to make the Legislature a rubber stamp for an “under-the-table deal” with China.

The government has not carried out a comprehensive assessment of the agreement's possible effects on Taiwan and its people, Hsu said.

The agreement, which was signed in June 2013, has been stalled in the Legislature mainly due to objections from opposition lawmakers, who are concerned that it will hurt Taiwan's interests.

Hoping to alleviate the doubts and build consensus on the issue, the Legislature has been holding a series of 16 hearings on the agreement since last September and plans to conclude them March 10.

Ma has urged legislators to begin reviewing the agreement soon after the last hearing and approve the pact before the current legislative session ends in June.

However, the DPP's Chen Chi-mai, a convener of the Legislature's interior affairs committee, said Tuesday that the Legislature will allow full discussion on all related issues and has not set a timeframe for passage of the agreement.

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