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Speaker skips out on meeting, pressures president for action

2014/03/21 15:45:59

Taipei, March 21 (CNA) Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng did not show up for a scheduled meeting to coordinate a government response to the protester-occupied Legislature Friday, choosing instead to issue a statement calling on the president to work for a consensus.

Wang called on President Ma Ying-jeou to listen to the voices of the people and work for discussion between the ruling and opposition parties to help restore the legislative operations that have ground to a halt since protesters took over the Legislative Yuan Tuesday night.

As to the meeting originally set for 11 a.m., which he told Ma Friday morning he would not attend, Wang said that it is "not appropriate" for the head of the Legislature to attend the administration's meeting under the stipulations of the Constitution.

In a three-point statement, Wang said Ma's use of Article 44 of the Constitution to call for the meeting was not valid, as the article in question governs "disputes between two or more Yuans (branches)" of the five-branch government.

The current situation, however, is not a dispute between the Legislative Yuan and Executive Yuan, but one between ruling and opposition lawmakers over the service trade pact, he said.

Wang's statement indicated that he twice rejected a personal request by Ma for him to attend Friday morning's meeting.

He noted that he conveyed his position in writing prior to the meeting and when Ma called him, he maintained his stance the dispute is over legislative procedures and not between the branches.

Between two calls from the president, Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman and former Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Yuan Tseng Yung-chuan was also instructed to call Wang, according to the speaker's statement.

As the speaker of the Legislature, Wang said he will continue to take every possible avenue of communication and mediation while taking stock of the view of all involved parties. He said he will call for consultations among the different legislative caucuses "when necessary."

As Ma serves as chairman of the KMT, Wang said it is incumbent on him to promote dialogue between ruling and opposition parties to solve the impasse and restore order.

Wang and Ma are widely believed to be on tense terms since the KMT tried to strip the legislative speaker of his membership on allegations of influence peddling in September. A court ruled Wednesday that the move was invalid, allowing Wang to stay in the party.

Protesters, mostly students, have occupied the Legislature's main chamber since Tuesday night in opposition to the service trade pact and how lawmakers from the ruling party have forced it through the Legislature. Several major figures from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have thrown their support behind the demonstrators.

(By Tseng Ying-yu and Lilian Wu)
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Related stories:
●March 20: President to meet legislative speaker on ending occupation (update)
●March 20: Legislature occupation enters third day, remains mostly peaceful
●March 18: Protesters break police line, storm Legislature (This also includes all the latest developments of the Legislature occupation.)