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July 29, 2017

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KMT contemplates lengthening session because of protests

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Hong-chih (林鴻池) yesterday said the ruling party caucus will either propose to extend the current legislative session or to hold interim meetings during a scheduled cross-caucus negotiation today.

Lin noted that to extend the session and then to convene interim meetings is also another option, adding that the KMT's final decision will be made before the negotiation convened by Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) kicks off.

The current legislative session is set to end on May 31, however, as the Legislature compound was occupied by student activists in March, deliberations for many major bills were postponed.

Lin said during a KMT cadre meeting yesterday that many lawmakers suggested holding an extra session or convening interim meetings so the lawmakers could have more time to review delayed bills.

Lin went on to say that the KMT hopes to complete deliberations for a special draft bill on Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZs), the draft bill for cross-strait pact oversight and the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement before this session ends.

KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) was quoted as saying that as the government's annual budget proposal was reviewed last session and there are no budget issues left unfinished, there is no sufficient reason to extend the session. Tseng said he suggests convening interim meetings and focusing on deliberating the government's major policies and bills.

KMT lawmaker Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), on the other hand, said the agenda of the current session was delayed due to deliberations on the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement and the student-led demonstrations, therefore, he proposes to extend the session.

KMT lawmaker Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said if the opposition still tries to boycott deliberations on any bills, then holding interim meetings is just offering a "stage" for opposition lawmakers to "insult" government officials.

Huang went on to say that the executive branch should strengthen communication with lawmakers and with the public, noting that the government should not let the opposition stigmatize and "demonize" the bill for FEPZs.

Huang noted that the Pingtung Agricultural Biotech Park (屏東生技園區), Anping Port (安平港) and Kaohsiung Port (高雄港) are all located in the cities led by opposition magistrates. However, those opposition magistrates will still not stand up and defend the FEPZs bill for their own cities' good, she added.

Huang, who doubles as one of the Economics Committee conveners, said that if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus wants to boycott the FEPZs bill, then the DPP should bear the consequences for doing so.

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