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May 28, 2017

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Legislative speaker not clear on status of cross-strait pact

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that he is not certain if the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement has been sent to the Yuan Sitting for a plenary session, noting that the matter has to be decided by the Legislature's Procedure Committee.

Wang said that it seems people did not follow the resolution that was made by the Legislature, noting that if people had abided by the resolution, the situation would not be like this.

The Legislative Yuan in its last session made a resolution by both the ruling party and opposition, saying that 20 public hearings should be held in the Legislature, and after that, the agreement should be deliberated article by article. The resolution also specifies that the agreement cannot be effective automatically without being deliberated.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), who doubles as the convener of a cross-committee deliberation meeting over the cross-strait service pact, on Monday claimed he had announced that the agreement had been sent to the Legislature's Yuan Sitting for record and future reference.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus lashed out at the KMT caucus, saying that the ruling party broke the laws and disobeyed the Legislature's resolution. The opposition argued that the audio system installed in the Legislative Yuan did not even record what Chang claimed he had said on Monday.

In response, Chang said he cannot guarantee if the audio records have been damaged by the DPP caucus or not, noting that he "remembers" he had completed the announcement.

When asked if sending the agreement to the Yuan Sitting means it is automatically effective or the Legislative Yuan has to put the matter into a vote, Chang said "I am not familiar with plenary session's rules; you have to ask legal experts."

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the cross-strait service pact has been sent to the plenary session, noting that the administration will respect the Yuan Sitting's decision over the matter.

DPP lawmaker Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that what the KMT has done is unacceptable, noting that the DPP would not just let it go. "There won't be any Yuan Sitting or interpellation session in the future," Gao said.

KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chi (林鴻池) said following Chang's announcement, the Legislative Yuan's Procedure Committee should add the cross-strait service pact into the Yuan Sitting's agenda. Then the Yuan Sitting will confirm that the deliberation of the agreement is completed, Lin explained.

Lin added that there is no way the KMT caucus would allow the Yuan Sitting to send the agreement back to cross-committee deliberations.

Yuan Sitting Goes Idle

DPP lawmakers yesterday around 8:30 a.m. arrived at the Legislative Yuan's Assembly Hall, occupying the rostrum and the podium to prevent anyone from the KMT caucus from taking them. However, only a few KMT legislators were present in the Assembly Hall.

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang around 11:20 a.m. announced that the plenary session had begun but called a recess shortly afterward.

The speaker added that members of the Cabinet will be invited to attend interpellation sessions once cross-caucus negotiations had finished.

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