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June 28, 2017

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Cross-strait pact sparks legislative tussle

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan yesterday for the first time held deliberation for the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement after the pact was submitted by the Cabinet more than three months ago; however, the deliberation failed to be processed due to physical altercations and non-stop disputes between ruling party and opposition lawmakers.

The Legislature yesterday evening decided to hold another cross-committee deliberation over the issue today.

After Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), who is the convener of the deliberation, announced the meeting had begun around 9 a.m., ruling party and opposition lawmakers argued over the order in which to take the podium.

Physical Altercations, Fighting Over the Podium

Kuomintang (KMT) legislators claimed that DPP lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) registered to take the podium before Chen announced the meeting's start, which is against the Legislative Yuan's regulated procedures. The KMT caucus demanded Chen and Kuan to apologize to the KMT before continuing the deliberation.

Several KMT legislators blocked the podium to prevent anyone from taking it; on the other hand, DPP legislators stood along the roster and held every microphone installed on the table.

DPP Legislators Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) were injured while fighting over for microphones with KMT lawmakers. Lin took a microphone from one of the KMT lawmakers and ran away from the room to hide it.

Chen later announced a recess and said another meeting will be held today.

The Legislative Yuan held more than 10 public hearings over the service trade pact issue in the past few months, and Chen, who doubles as one of the Interior Administration Committee conveners, last week added the issue to the Legislature's agenda.

Many DPP lawmakers, including Chen and Tuan, on Tuesday night brought their own sleeping bags into the meeting room where the deliberation would be held, and stayed overnight in order to be the first ones to register for making comments during the meeting.

No Service Trade Pact, No TPP

If the cross-strait service trade pact takes effect automatically without actual deliberation in the Legislative Yuan, it would cause a "side effect" to society, Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said yesterday.

Sun further explained that according to Article 61 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power, deliberations for administrative orders must be completed in three months, noting that after the three-month period, the administrative orders will be seen as having been deliberated automatically, which means the service trade pact would be effectively passed.

Sun said, however, if the Cabinet announces such an outcome, a severe "side effect" will affect society, and the Executive Yuan does not want to see this happen.

The spokesman then asked, if the service trade pact fails to be passed in the Legislative Yuan, then who would be willing to negotiate with Taiwan regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)?

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