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Talk of the Day -- Speaker's statement shows division in KMT

2014/04/07 18:51:59

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (center) makes the statement in front of the Legislative Yuan chamber Sunday.

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) met Sunday with student protesters who have been occupying the Legislature since March 18 and promised not to hold cross-caucus negotiations regarding a controversial service trade pact with China before a supervisory law is passed.

After greeting the protesters, Wang issued a statement saying that he guarantees not to mediate any cross-party negotiations concerning the trade-in-services agreement before a supervisory law that monitors all cross-strait pacts is passed.

While the students called Wang's visits the first goodwill gesture they had seen since their occupation began, his move drew divergent reactions from the Presidential Office, his party and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The following are excerpts of reports in local dailies on Wang's move:

United Daily News:

Wang entered the legislative main chamber at around 11 a.m. and greeted the students and activists, but did not converse directly with the student leaders.

Wang then read from a statement outside the main chamber, vowing to enact a law putting pacts with Beijing under greater scrutiny before resuming the process of deliberating the controversial pact. This highlighted the speaker's attempts to maintain his dignity and leadership power.

Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu, KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih and DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming were among the lawmakers who accompanied Wang to the Legislature.

However, Wang's presence at the Legislative Yuan and his promise reportedly caught the Presidential Office and the KMT caucus by surprise.

President Ma Ying-jeou had no knowledge beforehand of either Wang's visit to the protesters or his promise that the Legislature will not review the pact until a law monitoring cross-strait agreements is enacted, but he was happy to hear the calls by Wang for the students to withdraw from the Legislature and allow it to resume normal operations, Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said.

In addition, members of the KMT legislative caucus led by Lin later held a press conference in which they expressed surprise at Wang's comments.

Lin said that Wang decided to see the students at "very short notice" and that he was only notified that same morning.

Fai Hrong-tai, the KMT caucus deputy secretary, said he felt the party was "betrayed and sold out" by Wang, who "did not communicate with the party caucus before releasing his statement and made us who stood beside him appear to blindly endorse his views."

Despite Wang's assertion that he did not inform anyone about his statement before making it public, it seemed that DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, some KMT lawmakers in central and southern Taiwan and the students themselves had all known about Wang's intention before he went to the legislative chamber, Fai added. (April 7, 2014)

China Times:

Wang's visit to the protesting students signaled signs of division within the KMT, with the emergence of two rival factions -- pro-Wang and pro-Ma forces.

There might be complicated implications behind the KMT caucus arrangements in asking KMT lawmakers in northern Taiwan, but not those in central and southern Taiwan, to accompany Wang on his visit.

A KMT source familiar with the matter said Legislative Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hsi-shan informed some so-called pro-Wang lawmakers, including Lu Chia-chen, Hsu Yao-chang, Wong Chung-chun, Wang Hui-mei, Chen Ken-ter and Chang Chia-chun, that Wang was to meet the students in the Legislature later that day but did not reveal what Wang would talk about.

Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu also said she got a phone call from Wang but did not know beforehand that he would issue a statement.

Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Chiang Huei-chen said she did not know what was in Wang's mind, and said she had inadvertently become a traitor to her party.

Chiang said that among the some 20 lawmakers who accompanied Wang to the Legislature, some have close connections with Wang, while others were called to made up the numbers.

However, Wang Hui-mei said that the most important thing was to break the stalemate between the government and the students, while praising the speaker for taking wise action by responding to the students in a goodwill gesture, as this will help solve the standoff. (April 7, 2014)

(By Evelyn Kao)

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