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Talk of the Day -- Protesters hold people's assembly

2014/04/06 18:55:42

Student-led protesters held Saturday what they called a people's assembly to deliberate over two different versions of bill that would put cross-Taiwan Strait agreements under closer scrutiny.

Opinions of the participants, who looked at a Cabinet-drafted proposal and one drafted by members of the public, will be compiled into a report and given to the Executive Yuan and Legislative Yuan for reference.

The following are excerpts of reports in local dailies on the people's assembly:

China Times:

More than 1,000 people showed up to Saturday's people's assembly, despite the date marking Tomb Sweeping Day, when people are supposed to clean up around their ancestors' graves as a sign of respect.

Organizers invited officials from the Mainland Affairs Council, which was responsible for the government's draft of the agreement monitoring bill, to make a briefing, but the officials did not show up and were instead replaced with academics who explained the proposal.

Compared to the rallies around the Legislature over the past two weeks, the people's assembly drew a more diverse crowd, leaders said.

As for the Cabinet draft of the monitoring law, participants said they wanted greater transparency in how agreements with Beijing are handled, and that public hearings and the opinions of the people should play a more substantial role.

Some participants were supportive of the public-drafted version of the law, which calls for a national referendum if an agreement touches on political status or sovereignty. But others doubted the feasibility of such a measure. (April 6, 2014)

United Daily News:

The people's assembly at the Legislature is a testament to the ridiculous state of representative democracy today.

Lin Fei-fan, self-styled commander of the Legislature occupation movement, acted like a legislative speaker, while student-led protesters debated the draft law -- the job lawmakers are supposed to do, disgracing the establishment that is called the Legislature.

The absurdity is that lawmakers of the ruling Kuomintang -- who hold the majority of seats in the 113-member Legislature -- have been unable to resolve the deadlock, while the opposition Democratic Progressive Party have praised the protests.

Protesters have sidestepped representative democracy and initiated direct democracy, leaving many wondering what their elected lawmakers have been doing in the meantime.

"We are not seeking to replace elected lawmakers," Lin said Saturday, adding that their "deliberative democracy" was made necessary because the existing representative system had failed to keep executive power in check.

As protesters and members of the public seek common ground through their assembly, people can only scratch their heads as to why lawmakers from different parties have not taken a similar approach.

The protest has stalled legislative proceedings, all while lawmakers have seemed absent, taking no apparent action to solve the underlying problems.

For their part, voters seem justified to put up proverbial "missing" ads for their elected lawmakers who have disappeared on the job. (April 6, 2014)

(By Elaine Hou)

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