Taipei, New Taipei mayors support clearing of Executive Yuan
March 25, 2014, 12:18 am TWN
TAIPEI -- The mayors of two of Taiwan's biggest municipalities on Monday voiced support for the government's decision to remove protesters from the grounds of the Executive Yuan as they called for talks with other demonstrators opposed to the service trade pact with China.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu, both important figures in the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), separately condemned the break-in at the administration headquarters the previous day and sought to portray it as an "act of violence" harmful to a democratic society.
Hau said he can sympathize with the demands of the protesters, most of whom are students, as they call for "procedural justice" over the pact they say was negotiated under the table.
But he said their desire to "withdraw" the agreement must defer to the decisions made by the Legislature — where KMT lawmakers pushed the pact through a joint committee review in a matter of minutes, triggering opponents to the trade accord to launch massive protests that evolved into protesters' occupation of the Legislative Yuan's main chamber.
Hau said that any decision to mobilize police stationed in and around the Legislature is up to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, adding that he has faith Wang will appropriately square up the situation and make the right call.
New Taipei's Chu meanwhile said that he can never tolerate "any political parties or individuals" trying to sabotage democracy with violence — though it was not until police began removing protesters that clashes erupted.
Sunday's occupation of the Executive Yuan and subsequent police action left 61 arrested and 110 officers and protesters in the hospital.
"Taiwan had fought hard to earn its democracy, which is the most precious asset commonly owned by the people," Chu said.
He called on protesters to let the Legislature handle the disputes over the pact through an open and transparent item-by-item review. Any "disorderly conduct" will result in society paying a "higher price," he cautioned.
The cross-strait agreement on trade in services was signed in June last year, but has since failed to be ratified by Taiwanese lawmakers due to partisan disagreements.