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Legislative speaker to seek consensus on service trade pact

2014/03/22 15:50:03

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, outside his residence in Taipei's Dazhi area, Saturday.

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng said Saturday he is seeking consensus among lawmakers on the cross-Taiwan Strait trade-in-services agreement in the hope of ending a dispute that has led to an unprecedented occupation of the parliament building by protesters.

A key issue to be addressed is whether the agreement should be sent back to legislative committees or be allowed to proceed to the parliament floor for a vote, Wang told reporters.

The agreement, which was signed in June last year, has been stalled in the Legislative Yuan mainly due to objections from opposition lawmakers concerned that it will hurt Taiwan's interests.

The takeover of the legislature's main meeting chamber erupted after the ruling party Kuomintang tried to push the pact through on Monday, during a joint meeting held by the Legislature's eight standing committees to review the pact.

The move means the pact will be sent straight to a vote on the legislative floor without review and is considered in violation of a previous decision to review the agreement line by line in committees.

Unsatisfied with the way the KMT has handled the agreement, hundreds of protesters comprising mostly students have occupied the Legislature's main chamber since storming into the building late Tuesday.

The KMT caucus proposed Thursday that the pact be discussed and voted on article-by-article in the legislative floor now that it has been sent out of committees.

Disagreeing with the KMT, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party scheduled a committee meeting to review the pact next week.

Wang said this is a "big problem" that will require the legislators to sit down for talks, because the agreement cannot be in committees and the legislative floor at the same time.

If the two sides eventually agree to return the pact to committees, then they will need to discuss how the review will be conducted and who will preside over it, he said.

On Friday, President Ma Ying-jeou called a meeting to coordinate a government response to the occupation of the Legislature, but Wang did not show up and chose instead to issue a statement calling on Ma to listen to the voices of the people and work toward a consensus.

Wang said later he talked to Ma over the phone that day, but would not disclose the details.

Even if the ruling and opposition parties reach an agreement on how the pact should be reviewed, it's unclear whether the students will accept their consensus.

The students issued a statement Friday night demanding that the president cancel the pact and set up a mechanism that will have all agreements Taiwan's government wants to sign with China reviewed before the deals can be cemented.

(By Kelven Huang, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Y.F. Low)

Related stories:
●March 22: Talk of the Day -- Round two of a top-level feud?
●March 22: DPP schedules review of China trade pact; KMT vows boycott
●March 22: While favoring dialogue, Ma won't be forced into talks: official
●March 21: KMT urges legislative speaker to coordinate over trade pact
●March 21: Major parties talk tough as speaker seeks to end protest standoff
●March 21: DPP mobilizes to support student protesters at Legislature

(For the latest on the Legislature occupation, click here.)