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Lawmakers' efforts to get back to business off to bad start
Central News Agency
2014-03-31 12:52 PM
Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Efforts by ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers to resume work in the Legislature on Monday did not go well as water was thrown at a committee chairman and the debate focused on the disputes over a trade-in-services pact with China. Several of the Legislative Yuan's eight committees scheduled meetings as student-led protesters continued to occupy the main chamber normally used for legislative floor meetings. The committee meetings called by KMT conveners made little progress during the morning, however, as members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stated their position on the standoff over the pact. The Internal Administration Committee was supposed to review legislation related to urban renewal but several DPP lawmakers demanded Chang Ching-chung, a KMT lawmaker who was chairing the session, first apologize or resign over his decision to declare the review of the controversial trade pact complete during a chaotic committee meeting on March 17. DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai tossed a glass of water in Chang's face as the latter was speaking at the podium. Chang was criticized for pushing though the cross-Taiwan Strait pact 'in 30 seconds' when he was chairing the March 17 session. His decision, which has since been invalidated, spurred a protest rally the next day that escalated into the storming of the legislature and its subsequent occupation by demonstrators. At Monday's meeting, Chang said he made the decision at a time when he was physically cornered by DPP lawmakers but was willing to apologize for causing "political and social unrest" that has crippled the parliament for the past two weeks. Meanwhile, a meeting of the legislative Economic Committee fared no better Monday. A series of three hearings on the Free Economic Pilot Zones were scheduled but were all delayed. Committee Chairwoman Huang Chao-shun, a veteran KMT lawmaker, said after consultations with opposition members that two additional hearings will be held before April 14. She said earlier that the committee had to hold the three hearings before the end of March in accordance with a consensus reached in cross-party caucus consultations. There have been growing calls for the Legislative Yuan to get back to business, particularly after a massive protest rally Sunday that ended peacefully. The organizers claimed half a million people attended the demonstration, while the police reported a figure of 116,000 at most. The rally was part of the protests against the trade pact, which the opposition said was negotiated with China without transparency. Critics have also expressed worry that the agreement, aimed at liberalizing the service industry on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, would threaten Taiwan's businesses, jobs and even national security. (By Hsieh Chia-chen, Wang Jing-yi and John Scot Feng)
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