Cabinet wants simultaneous handling of monitoring bill, services pact

Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Despite the legislative speaker's Sunday pledge to put the law monitoring cross-strait agreements before the trade-in-services pact with China, the Cabinet expressed hopes that the two will be handled at the same time. "There is no time to stall," said Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun, who argued that the services pact is crucial to Taiwan's bid to join regional trade blocs like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). His statement came after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said he would not preside over any more consultation sessions between ruling and opposition lawmakers over the services pact until a new law scrutinizing all future cross-strait pacts is passed. Sun downplayed those remarks, saying that the Executive Yuan has no comments on Wang's decision since coordinating between ruling and opposition caucuses is the duty or the legislative speaker. Sun did, however, say that the Cabinet is happy to see Wang's visit to the students, as well as his suggestion that they end their protest. Late Sunday, the head of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT)'s Culture and Communication Committee, Fan Chiang Tai-chi, called for the services pact to be handed to legislative committees for an item-by-item review, as the KMT and opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had agreed back in June. Fan Chiang noted that DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has called for the monitoring law to be passed first, but said that would not be possible unless the Legislature is allowed to return to normal operations, referring to the ongoing protest in the main legislative chamber. He noted that DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming has said the opposition party backs the student protest, implying their support of the obstructive demonstration was blocking them from their own goals. (By Claudia Liu, Lee Shu-hua and Lilian Wu)