Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Kuomintang (KMT) legislative whip Lin Hung-chih apologized Monday for causing a social disturbance after saying that the occupation of the Legislature by student protesters was triggered by the KMT's move to ram through a trade-in-services pact with China.
He said he has offered to quit his post as the party's whip, but President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as KMT chairman, has asked him to stay on.
While apologizing for his party's actions, Lin stressed that the opposition Democratic Progressive Party should apologize for its actions as well.
"The occupation of the legislative podium by the opposition party has become a norm, and the biggest perversity of democratic politics," he said at a news conference.
According to Lin, the DPP has occupied the podium 36 times to block legislative proceedings during the current session, which opened in February, and he said that if the party does not apologize and continues to block access to the podium, problems cannot be solved.
Lin said the occupation of the Legislature by student-led protesters was caused by the "30-second incident," referring to the KMT's ramming of the pact through legislative committees in just 30 seconds on March 17 and sending it for a full vote of the lawmaking body.
The legislator also said, however, that behind those 30 seconds were repeated attempts by the DPP to stall the review of the service trade agreement with China.
The DPP threatened to block review of the pact when Chang Ching-chung -- the co-convener of the Internal Administration Committee who announced on March 17 that the pact had made it through committee -- tried to put it on the agenda three months ago, Lin said.
It also asked for more public hearings, with eight each for the ruling and opposition camps, Lin said, and the eight public hearings held by the opposition took four months to complete. "We had to swallow it," the lawmaker said.
On March 10, Chen Chi-mai, a co-convener of the Internal Administration Committee, then moved to have the pact put on the agenda but refused to let KMT lawmakers speak, Lin said, and when Chang served as co-convener on March 17, the DPP again occupied the podium.
"Can we tolerate it any more?" Lin wondered. "The KMT legislators can tolerate it, but can Taiwan's economic development take it?"
He contended that Chang's move to ram the bill through committee was a last resort because he could no longer put up with the opposition's repeated attempts to block the review process.
He said that although he has different views than the students protesting the pact, he could not but feel sorry for them after seeing them on the streets over the past two weeks in the rain and wind.
Chang has put the review of the pact on the committee's agenda for April 2 and will screen it item-by-item, but he did not know if the DPP will block the process again, Lin said.
At the press conference, Chang also bowed and apologized for the social disturbances that occurred after he sent the pact through committee without a review.
Related stories:●March 31: Latest meeting on services pact in Legislature fails again●March 18: Talk of the Day -- Service trade pact pushed forward amid chaos●March 17: KMT lawmaker claims trade-in-service pact 'passed' despite no review
(Click here for the latest on the ongoing protest and developments since the Legislature occupation starting March 18.)