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September 22, 2017

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Legislature speaker won't use force to evict students from Assembly Hall

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that the student activists occupying the Legislature will not be "forcefully evicted."

Yesterday marked the third day since protesters stormed the Legislature and seized control of the Assembly Hall. Replete with supplies and sleeping bags, more than 200 protesters occupied the main building, while thousands surrounded the entire compound, in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from ratifying the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement.

According to the law, the speaker has the right to summon police officers stationed at the Legislature to enter the Assembly Hall in the event of disorder or concern for the safety of lawmakers.

Legislative autonomy applies to legislators, Wang said, adding that since the people occupying the Assembly Hall aren't legislators, it is a question of "public safety" as opposed to whether or not he should exercise the right to summon police.

Meanwhile, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) requested that the National Police Agency comply with the Legislative Yuan.

The main objective is to protect students, so they won't be forcefully evicted, Wang said, urging protesters to take care of themselves given the recent drop in temperatures.

In response to activists' request for him to field questions at the Legislature, Wang said that the Legislative Yuan will try to solve the situation via the most appropriate methods, and that after order has been restored, the Legislative Yuan will return public property to its original state.

When asked about the meeting scheduled for tomorrow at the Legislature, Wang said, "How are we to hold a meeting? It would be impossible."

Caucus Whips Urge Wang to Arrange Negotiations

KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), who serves as chief executive of the ruling party's Policy Committee, urged Wang to arrange cross-caucus negotiations as soon as possible, while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that his caucus has already requested Wang to arrange cross-caucus negotiations but that opposition lawmakers have yet to receive notice.

DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the speaker must express his stance on the KMT caucus' actions, referring to KMT lawmaker Chang Ching-chung's (張慶忠) submission of the pact to the Yuan Sitting before an article-by-article review on the pact had been completed.

Ruing party and opposition lawmakers had agreed last year that the pact cannot take effect without an article-by-article review and without the Legislature's seal of approval, Ker added.

Meanwhile, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that his party has mobilized its members to surround the Legislative Yuan on Friday.

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