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FAPA deeply disturbed by KMT government’s lack of democratic procedures in forcing Service Trade Agreement through Legislative Yuan

(Washington, D.C. – March 18th 2014) – The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a Taiwanese-American grassroots organization based in Washington DC, today expresses its deep concern about the undemocratic procedures used by the KMT government of President Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan to force its Service Trade Agreement with China through the Legislative Yuan.

FAPA refers in particular to decision on Monday, March 17th 2014 by legislator Chang Ching-chung, the KMT chairman of a joint meeting of eight legislative committees reviewing the pact, to declare the review completed without any deliberation, and send it to the plenary session of the legislature for a final vote.

The agreement had been controversial from the start, and led to a stalemate in the legislature in the Summer of 2013, which only ended when the KMT and DPP caucuses in the legislature agreed to holding some 20 hearings on the effect of the pact, to be followed by a clause-by-clause review in a joint session of the eight committees of the Legislative Yuan.

The review formally started on Wednesday, March 12th in a session chaired by DPP legislator Chen Chi-mai, but the meeting was not able to proceed due to obstruction by KMT legislators. Mr. Chen tried again on Thursday March 13th, but to no avail.

On Monday, March 17th it was KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung’s turn to chair the meeting, but again it descended into chaos due to pushing and shoving, and even fistfights, between the two camps. Then, instead of simply adjourning the meeting, legislator Chang (who was not even on the podium chairing the meeting, but standing in a corner with a roving microphone) declared the review completed and sent it on to the plenary session of the legislature.

This move infuriated students and civic organizations opposed to the pact, and in the evening of Tuesday, March 18th 2014, several hundred supporters pushed their way into the building and occupied the legislative chambers.

The Formosan Association for Public Affairs takes the following position:

1. The Service Trade Agreement in its present form is detrimental to Taiwan and the wellbeing of its people;

2. The KMT government and the Legislative Yuan urgently need to come to an agreement to have an orderly clause-by-clause process to review the agreement. The present heavy-handed approach is harmful to the country’s democracy;

3. As this trade agreement is an international legal instrument, it should be treated as such, and receive a formal approval by the legislature. It cannot in any way be termed an “executive order”, and then be pushed through via the back door.

FAPA will raise this issue with its contacts in the United States Congress and the US Government, and urge both to convey their strong concerns to the Taiwan authorities about these undemocratic procedures.

Submitted by:FAPA
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