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Protesters hold 'people's assembly' to discuss monitoring draft bill

2014/04/05 18:16:38

Taipei, April 5 (CNA) The protest occupying the Legislature since March 18 took a new direction Saturday as demonstrators held what they called a "people's assembly" to discuss separate versions of a bill drafted by the government and by members of the public.

The assembly began at around 9:30 a.m. at the side entrance of the Legislative Yuan complex, with lawyer Lai Chung-chiang and Hsu Wei-chun, an associate professor in law at Chung Yuan Christian University, explaining the differences between the two drafts of the bill aimed at giving closer scrutiny to cross-strait agreements.

Participants were then divided into 20 groups of 15-25 people each to talk about the differences.

Lai praised the assembly, the 11th of its kind since the trade-in-services agreement with China was signed in June last year, as an "opening" of attitudes toward the monitoring mechanism on the part of protesters.

He said he would gather more opinions on the issue and present his findings to the Legislative Yuan and Executive Yuan for reference.

The self-styled commander of the Legislature occupation, graduate student Lin Fei-fan, called the assembly an "innovation."

The people are not seeking to replace elected lawmakers, Lin explained, arguing that their "deliberative democracy" was made necessary because the existing representative system had failed to keep executive power in check.

Once the results of the people's assembly are compiled into a report, Lin said, he looks forward to a point-by-point response from the Cabinet and lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties.

Meanwhile, Lin also responded to criticisms that his movement's occupation of the Legislature has delayed legislation on many major bills.

Withdrawing from the Legislative Yuan's main chamber now will not resolve the problem, Lin said, calling for President Ma Ying-jeou to face their demands directly.

Later in the day, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council extended an invitation to representatives of the student movement for a visit to the council's headquarters to learn more about its draft bill on the monitoring mechanism.

(By Yuris Ku and Elizabeth Hsu)

Related stories:
●April 3: Premier sets June for national economic conference
●April 3: Cabinet approves draft law on oversight of cross-strait pacts (update)

(Click here for the latest on the ongoing protest and developments since the Legislature occupation starting March 18.)