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June 29, 2017

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Interior minister leaves occupation issue to Wang

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) yesterday said he respects the Legislative Yuan's autonomy when it comes to the affairs inside the Legislature, noting that he hopes the student activists will leave the Assembly Hall and peacefully end the demonstration.

Chen's remark came after a local media report claiming Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jing-pyng (王金平) said in private that if the government wants to dispatch police to evict the students, it does not need to have Wang's permission as the occupation is a matter of social order.

Chen said, however, that the National Police Agency (NPA) and Legislative Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Chester Chou (周萬來) have established a "negotiation platform" and have been communicating over the matter of police deployment.

The student-led "Occupy the Legislative Yuan" movement has entered its third week, and many commentators have been arguing whether it is Wang or the Executive Yuan's jurisdiction to summon police to clear the Assembly Hall.

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. However, it was not the first time Wang referred to the occupation as an issue of social order.

When asked if Wang had said the executive branch does not need his permission to summon police to expel the students in the Legislative Yuan, instead of offering a direct answer, Wang responded that what the report said is an interpretation of the police summon right by the Legislative Yuan's Organic Law and Statute Bureau.

When asked if Wang will go into the Assembly Hall and communicate with students, Wang offered no comment.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Jonathan Chen (陳純敬) backed up the interior minister's remark, saying that the Ministry of the Interior's (MOI) position has not changed since the student activists began occupying the Legislative Yuan on March 18, that affairs inside the Assembly Hall belong in the Legislative Yuan speaker's jurisdiction. Should the Legislature request for the MOI's help, the executive branch will cooperate in accordingly, Chen said.

A source within the MOI said the Assembly Hall symbolizes the autonomy of the Legislative Yuan, plus, as there are Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers guarding every entrance of the Assembly Hall, conflicts would easily occur no matter what the police do.

Plenary Session Held Elsewhere?

Commentators have proposed that the plenary session that used to be held at the Assembly Hall should be held in another place in the Legislative Yuan, as student activists refuse to leave.

In response, Wang said the proposal requires the approval of both the ruling party caucus and the opposition, noting that currently the DPP caucus and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) disapprove of the proposal. He added that he will work harder to solve the impasse at the Legislature.

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