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September 26, 2017

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4 civic groups demand FEPZ draft rejection

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Four civic groups yesterday jointly held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan urging cross-caucus lawmakers to reject the special draft bill on the Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZs) proposed by the Executive Yuan.

The Executive Yuan submitted the draft bill to the Legislature for deliberation in December 2013; however, it wasn't until recently that lawmakers held the relevant meetings.

Following former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's (林義雄) open letter on Wednesday urging citizens to prevent lawmakers from passing the draft bill on FEPZs, the four civic groups echoed Lin's remarks.

The four groups include the Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (反黑箱服貿民主陣線), Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP, 台灣教授協會), Taiwan Labor Front (TLF, 台灣勞工陣線) and National Health Insurance Civic Surveillance Alliance (民間監督健保聯盟).

TLF Secretary-General Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) told the press that Kuommintang (KMT) lawmaker Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) recently attempted to pass three articles of the draft bill without deliberations.

Son criticized the draft bill by saying that the zones are not guarantees for a better economy but are zones for "committing suicide." He further claimed that the bill will open "back doors" for mainland Chinese funds, laborers, goods and service industries to enter Taiwan.

TAUP President Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津) said that although the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement has yet to clear the Legislature, if the FEPZ draft bill passes the Legislature, it will offer a route for over 800 restricted agricultural products and over 1,300 other types of goods to enter Taiwan from mainland China.

The groups urged the Legislative Yuan to reject the draft bill.

National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) on Thursday told reporters that democracy is not arbitrated by the opinions of a single individual. Kuan further said that Lin does not understand the essence of the FEPZ program as Lin did not participate in any of the meetings.

Legislative Procedures

The Legislative Yuan's Economics Committee has held several deliberation meetings on the draft bill; however, these were boycotted by the opposition. The DPP caucus claimed that the KMT caucus violated legislative procedures and demanded that the ruling party abide by the rules. The committee is currently discussing "renaming" the title of the draft bill.

The FEPZs include Keelung Port, Taipei Port, Taichung Port, Anping Port, Kaohsiung Port, Suao Harbor, Taoyuan Aerotropolis and Pingtung Agricultural Biotech Park. The NDC said the FEPZs are test beds for economic liberalization, noting that one of the key ideas of the program is to greatly loosen restrictions on the flow of goods, funds, information and technologies in order to create a more favorable environment for investments.

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