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July 24, 2017

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Lawmakers gridlocked over service trade pact

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) arranged another round of cross-caucus negotiations yesterday which lasted less than two hours, ending in yet another failure for lawmakers across party lines to reach a consensus on how to resolve disputes over the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Alex Fai (費鴻泰) said that his caucus has been hoping for an article-by-article discussion on the pact, having the speaker chair the meeting and getting the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to promise that it will not seize the rostrum, proposals which Wang urged the opposition to consider.

The DPP, however, rejected the proposals and no consensus was reached, Fai said, adding that the KMT had failed the nation, referring to the failure to reach an agreement with the DPP.

DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that his party insists on passing an oversight law for cross-strait agreements before the service trade pact is reviewed.

Ker said that the KMT was not being sincere and urged its lawmakers to put their signatures on the student activists' list of demands.

Protesters are demanding that lawmakers push for the institutionalization of cross-strait agreement oversight, that lawmakers complete the measure first before dealing with the controversy resulting from the service trade pact, and that lawmakers on the Procedure Committee not block any proposal related to the above-mentioned measure and submit a bill for review in the shortest amount of time.

DPP caucus whip Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that the KMT has been repeating itself in its proposals.

On Sunday, 500,000 people occupied Ketagalan Boulevard, and now the KMT is still proposing the same things, Gao said, adding that President Ma Ying-jeou should be held fully responsible for the lack of progress in negotiations.

The actual number of protesters who gathered on Sunday has generated a degree of controversy. Protest organizers said that 500,000 were in attendance, while the National Police Agency estimated that 116,000 had attended.

Lin Tendered Resignation Twice

Meanwhile, KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) apologized for the social unrest resulting from the controversial service trade pact, adding that he tendered his resignation twice as chief executive of the ruling party's Policy Committee.

According to KMT Vice Chairman and Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), the president, who doubles as chairman of the ruling party, has asked Lin to stay on as head of the KMT Policy Committee.

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