Opposition lawmakers block talks on extra legislative session

Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Opposition lawmakers occupied the podium of the Legislative Yuan Monday to obstruct a planned informal session to discuss whether to hold a provisional session on several key bills.
Legislative caucuses of the ruling and opposition parties reached a tentative consensus July 26 on holding an extra legislative session from July 29 through Aug. 9 to screen several bills, including holding a referendum on the fate of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant, a recently signed cross-Taiwan Strait service trade agreement and proposed revisions to the military justice system. According to the consensus, the Legislature was to hold an informal session early Monday to discuss the agenda for the extra legislative session originally set to start later that day. Lawmakers from the opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), however, occupied the legislative podium before the start of the session, displaying posters to express the TSU's opposition to the cross-strait service trade pact and the party's call for scrapping of the almost-completed nuclear power plant. TSU legislative whip Hsu Chung-hsin said the service trade pact should not be deliberated in an extra legislative session and should be scrutinized clause-by-clause when the next legislative session opens this fall. Several legislators from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) joined their TSU colleagues in occupying the podium at around 11 a.m. to block the start of the informal legislative session. Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng summoned party whips from the ruling and opposition camps to discuss whether and when to hold a second extra legislative session.
The ruling Kuomintang-controlled Legislature already held a provisional session July 13-June 27.
Meanwhile, a group of people also demonstrated outside the Legislative Yuan to urge lawmakers not to screen the cross-strait service trade pact, which they said will undermine the interests of local operators in some service sectors.
Clashes erupted between demonstrators and police when some anti-service trade pact activists tried to intrude into the lawmaking body. In the end, the police managed to keep all the demonstrators away from the legislative complex. (By Wang Ching-yi and Sofia Wu)