- Posted March 18, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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Hundreds of protestors stormed Legislative Yuan building in Taiwan over trade agreement with China
Enraged. Disappointed. Desperate.
These are the feelings reside in hundreds of protestors when they stormed into Legislative Yuan building, the heart of its nation's legislative body, in Taiwan few hours ago at midnight local time.
Their intention: To stop current Ma administration and his party, Chinese National People's Party (or Kuomintang, KMT for short) from forcefully passing a controversial trade agreement bill between China and Taiwan without proper legislative review and public debate.
Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement has been the center of focus for the Taiwanese political arena since June, 2013. The trade agreement is designed to open and expand the service sector market between both China and Taiwan and boost local economic growth, according to Executive Yuan (the main governing body in Taiwan).
The trade agreement is said would eventually help countless Taiwanese companies to conduct business much easier within China and thus help expanding the country's economy, which is currently struggling with high unemployment rate among young population and staggered growth since 2008.
However, after close examination of the bill, many people find the bill strongly favors Chinese counterparts over Taiwanese companies and thus would not accept the trade agreement. For example, according to the study done by Chairperson of Department of Economics from National Taiwan University, Dr. Show-Ling Jang, the agreement in many sections allows Chinese companies and organizations to enjoy vast variety of freedom for conducting business in Taiwan; however, Taiwanese companies on the other hand are tied and regulated by Chinese government over the same issues.
It was this type of unbalanced and miss-matched setting within the agreement prompted many people and legislative representatives raised their voices against the passing of this bill.
However, President Ma Ying-Jeou and his administration seem to have set their minds on getting the bill passed swiftly. While the administration claimed the bill has been through proper public hearing procedure, 8 mandated public hearing sessions conducted by KMT party were completed within an unprecedented 3-day time frame. Many people argued a trade agreement with such importance should never had been rushed and more careful debate and review are needed at legislative level.
Unfortunately, what many have demanded, Ma administration and his party failed to deliver.
Just when the opposing party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP for short), urging detailed review at legislative level, KMT makes it clear that they will not accept any other outcome but getting the bill passed. Two parties finally clashed together yesterday with brawling and shouting during a scheduled review session for the trade agreement at Legislative Yuan. From the chaos, the representative Chang Ching-chung from KMT party, who called for the meeting, abruptly declared the bill was passed due to procedural regulation dictates a bill submitted for review by Legislative Yuan after three months should be considered as a passed one.
Such move by Chang, perceived by many as a sign of destroying and completely abandoning the democratic process within Legislative Yuan and Taiwan's national constitution, finally enraged many people in Taiwan, especially student civil right activists who have been long arguing the legal proceeding of this bill has been conducted poorly.
On midnight March 19th, estimated more than 600 hundreds of student activists accompanied by DPP party representatives stormed the building of Legislative Yuan and then barricaded themselves inside.
Such incident has never occurred in modern history of Taiwan.
DPP representative woman, Mrs. Lin Shu-Fen, is among those activists. Via a telephone interview with this reporter, Mrs. Lin described how these student activists have helped unifying people's anger and resolves to fight against Ma administration and KMT party.
"The action (done by Chang) shows how KMT party disregards the spirit of democratic process and Taiwanese people's wills. These students helped unifying us and our anger toward the injustice brought by KMT. They police themselves and keep reminding people not to pursue violence over this protest."
Since the barricade started few hours ago, police officers have been trying to break in 4 times without much success. Activists are using chairs and tables within the building to block all entrances.
"The President of Legislative Yuan, Mr. Wang Jin-Pyng has received personal request from the President of Executive Yuan via phone call to "Clear Out" us activists."
"Even the Ministry of Interior is making phone calls to the Secretary of Legislative Yuan to use police force to force us leave. Such irregular communication and over-reaching between a country's executive body and legislative body is a terrible example of how KMT party is destroying our constitution and democracy!" said Mrs. Lin.
Outside of the Legislative Yuan, thousands have shown and sat in to show their supports for the student activists inside. Police force is gathering between the crowd and the building to prevent more people from entering. More protestors are expected to show as dawn approaches.
According to a student activist, whose real name was requested to be left anonymous and be called DKW, a paramedic team member and one of the lead drivers called for this occupation, police have tried to use brute force to drag activists away from the building.
“There were some people got injured and taken out of the building. When we tried to perform our duty as paramedic to provide treatment and care for them, the police officers tried to block our passage and prevent us to help them! I had to yell and shout at the top of my lung at the police to get those injured out so we can treat them.”
“Activists have stocked enough water, food, and other supplies. We are prepared for a long confrontation. We want to see more people to show up and support this protest. We need to show the administration our resolves and determination to fight such injustice! We are young, but we are strong, and we are going to see this through!”
As of now, no government officials have come out and issue any statement.
Photo Courtesy of Citizen 1985, an local activist group.