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KMT calls for article-by-article vote

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kuomintang (KMT) caucus yesterday urged Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to arrange cross-party negotiations, expressing a wish to engage in a thorough article-by-article discussion on the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement with their opposition counterparts and to conduct an article-by-article vote on the agreement.

On Tuesday, protesters against the cross-strait pact stormed the Legislature and seized control of the Assembly Hall in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from ratifying the pact, while thousands of activists surrounded the complex.

After yesterday's caucus meeting, KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), who also serves as chief executive of the ruling party's Policy Committee, said during a press conference that the ruling party caucus has come to three resolutions, namely to call for cross-party negotiations, to engage in an article-by-article discussion on the agreement as well as hold an article-by-article vote.

Meanwhile, KMT lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said that there isn't much of a chance of returning the pact to the Internal Administration Committee for review, but that the pact can be examined article-by-article during a plenary session.

Student activists previously gave President Ma Ying-jeou and Wang an ultimatum, demanding that Ma communicate with them directly and that Wang make a ruling on the pact's status.

On Thursday, the Presidential Office confirmed that Ma would convene a meeting, on the authority of Article 44 of the R.O.C. Constitution, with the speaker, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) in order to find a solution to the legislative crisis and restore order to the parliament.

However, after Jiang entered the Presidential Office yesterday morning, Wang was nowhere to be seen, giving rise to speculation that the meeting had been cancelled.

At approximately noon, Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏) confirmed that Wang had telephoned Ma and suggested a postponement.

According to the spokeswoman, Wang explained that the demonstration was sparked by a dispute between ruling party and opposition lawmakers and suggested that the meeting between the president, the premier, the vice president and himself be held after lawmakers across party lines had reached a resolution.

The president agreed with Wang and the meeting was subsequently postponed, Li added.

DPP, Student Protesters

Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) appealed to Wang in a statement earlier yesterday, urging the speaker to pay heed to the separation of powers and not let Ma lay the responsibility for the controversy on others.

Tsai also urged Wang to defend the dignity and freedom of the Legislature by not attending Ma's meeting.

Former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) encouraged Ma to show sincerity in resolving the problem and to stop trying to shirk his own responsibility.

Following news of the meeting's postponement, student activists declared that their occupation of the Legislature will continue until Ma meets their demands.

National Taiwan University student Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), leader of the "Occupy Legislative Yuan" movement, held a press conference at 6 p.m. yesterday, revealing the next wave of planned protests.

As a result of Ma's reluctance to face their demands, student activists called for an expansion of the demonstration, requesting their supporters to surround KMT headquarters across the island on Saturday and Sunday.

March 22, 2014    kingsolomon@
The best way is for the legislative Yuan to take a long vacation to avoid violence because these demonstrators and their backers are after media attention for the upcoming elections. Advertisement on TV and newspapers are expensive, these students are cheaper to maintain (just food and beer is enough) and they get to be on the front page and channel news. These copycats of the Thailand protests should be left alone. Copycats are common here, just like the kind of protest by afghan and its neighbors of throwing shoes at an individual. It’s monkey see, monkey do time again in Taiwan.
March 22, 2014    smopkesignal_day@
The students are not elected and should get out of the Legislature. Normal business then will resume. Let us respect the Rule of Law.
March 23, 2014    basilchicken@
There was previously an agreement by KMT and other parties to review and vote on the trade pact in committee before reporting out to plenary. They broke the agreement by announcing vote and review done without doing so. Now they want an agreement to vote in plenary when they can by pass again by sheer majority of votes? No...KMT broke the rules -trade pact needs go back to committee to be reviewed and voted.
March 24, 2014    poco1@
The KMT caucus's offer of a review is meaningless. Any credible journalist covering this story knows that without sending the trade bill back to committee, no change is possible. This is true for two reasons. First, the KMT has a majority, which will rubber stamp each article. Second, Ma has threatened to deny any KMT legislator who fails to support his bill the right to represent the KMT in the next election. For your newspaper not to criticize such cynicism is a failure of journalistic integrity and makes a mockery of your pretence to editorial objectivity.
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