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KMT lawmakers boycott committee meeting

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee and seven other standing committees held a meeting yesterday regarding whether or not the government should meet the demands of student groups protesting the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement that passed on March 17.

All KMT members of the committee were absent, saying that the meeting was illegal.

The committee members in attendance passed three motions directed at the government. They declared that the passage of the cross-strait pact and the subsequent KMT deliberation report on the pact were not effective.

They also demanded that deliberation over the cross-strait pact resume following the passage of a bill that would allow for greater oversight in the deliberation stages of all cross-strait agreements.

A third motion called for the scrapping and renegotiation of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement with mainland China.

All three of the committee's resolutions are in line with those expressed by student activists, who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan's Assembly Hall since March 18 and stormed the Executive Yuan building on March 23.

In addition to the demands issued at the meeting, the committees also stated that when the cross-strait pact is brought before the legislature again, the entire assembly should vote on it.

The committee's final decisions were proposed shortly after DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) — this week's presiding officer — called the meeting to order. Each motion received unanimous approval from those present, with the meeting adjourning shortly after their passage.

After the demands were publicized, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) stated that while he respected the Legislative Yuan's decision, he was not in a position to make comments, saying that “the Legislature should clarify these disputes as soon as possible.”

Inconvenient Time to Express Opinions: Speaker Wang

In a press conference held yesterday afternoon, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) stated that he was concerned about the students who broke into the Executive Yuan on Sunday night, but that solutions were yet to be discussed and that it was an inconvenient time for him to express his opinions.

KMT members close to the Speaker pointed out that the pressure of facing the student protesters at the Legislative Yuan fell to Wang once again after Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) took a firm stance against the students' occupation of the Executive Yuan.

In his speech regarding the break-in incident yesterday, Jiang noted that it was inappropriate for the DPP leaders to show up and express their support at the protest site; and although he was not sure whether their motives were political, the DPP would oppose the same actions if it was in power.

Chang Defends Own Actions

KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) — who, as chairman of the committee deliberating the cross-strait pact, declared it passed and touched off the student protests — stated yesterday that, contrary to popular belief and local media reports, he had not passed the pact in 30 seconds and submitted it to the Yuan Sitting, but instead waited for three Legislative sessions. “I was forced to make a declaration of conscience,” Chang said.

In response to the committee meeting's demands, the KMT caucus held a press conference, stating that the meeting may be illegal and should not be effective. In addition, Chang reiterated the procedure by which he passed the pact and noted that the DPP was simply trying to postpone passage without any intention of reviewing it at all.

Chang said he had been subjected to a lot of pressure and slander after March 17, taking special exception to the accusation that he had passed the agreement in merely 30 seconds. “This is slander,” Chang declared.

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Members of the Legislative Yuan's eight standing committees gather for a meeting, yesterday. Headed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), the committees met to discuss the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement. Kuomintang lawmakers were absent, and the remaining members voted to approve the DPP's proposal to meet the student activists' demands. (CNA)

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