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Legislative Yuan needs two weeks to complete cleanup, repairs: official

TAIPEI--It will take about two weeks to repair the damage done to Taiwan's parliament during a recent student-led occupation, a Legislative Yuan official said yesterday, but it was unclear if the cleanup will disrupt future meetings.

The Legislature's main chamber was damaged during a 24-day occupation from March 18 to April 10 by students who were protesting a service trade agreement that Taiwan signed with China last year.

Tsai Wei-min, the Legislature's head of general affairs, said that although the venue is in good enough condition to convene any necessary meetings, repair efforts will nonetheless move forward.

Legislative staffers and hired cleaning crews have been busy cleaning the premises, and the venue was made ready for the first plenary floor session on Friday after a three-week standstill.

Tsai did not give an estimate of the damage done or total cost of repairs, saying the figure could only be calculated after all of the repairs have been completed.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng pledged Friday that no taxpayer money would be used to pay for the building's repairs, but he did not specify where the money would come from.

Five meetings of the full Legislature were postponed as a result of the protests. The next meeting would be scheduled for April 18, but ruling Kuomintang (KMT) caucus whip Lin Hung-chih is not sure it will take place.

He hoped proceedings could resume swiftly, but said it would depend on the progress of the repairs and discussions between the ruling and opposing parties.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Wu Ping-rui said he has yet to receive any notification of talks, but felt that the Legislature needed to be restored first to a suitable state if the sessions were to resume on the 18th.

Commenting on the possibility of postponing the meeting, Lin said the Legislature needs to pick up the pace of its work to handle several bills on basic livelihood issues that remain pending.

Any talk of postponement is premature as talks between ruling and opposition lawmakers need to be held first, Lin said.

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