UPDATE: Taiwan’s legislature passes joint statement backing HK protests

It is “regrettable” that political parties could not set aside their differences, says Legislative Yuan speaker

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People rally outside Taiwan's Legislative Yuan on ...

People rally outside Taiwan's Legislative Yuan on ...

[Last update: June 17 20:20]

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite the standoff in the morning, the legislature issued a three-point joint statement signed by the representatives of four political parties later in the afternoon.

The summary of the statement is as follows:

1. The legislature condemns the use of force by the Hong Kong government against its people on June 12. It urges the Hong Kong government to humbly respond to the protesters’ requests.

2. The legislature expresses support for the citizens of Hong Kong in their pursuit of democracy and freedom. It urges the Hong Kong government to withdraw the extradition bill.

3. The legislature suggests the Taiwan government offer necessary care and assistance to Hong Kong’s people, when their safety and freedom are jeopardized due to political factors. The assistance and care should be provided under the country’s Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong & Macao Affairs.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s legislature failed to pass a resolution backing Hong Kong’s protests against the contentious extradition bill, which would allow suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to China, at an interim session on Monday.

It is “regrettable” that political parties could not set aside their differences and simply express support for Hong Kong’s people, said Legislative Yuan Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全).

The legislature was unable to reach a consensus on the passing of the resolution due to opposition from the Kuomintang (KMT), which blamed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for having rigged procedures at the legislative interim sessions.

“The KMT will never issue a statement with you [DPP],” said KMT Legislator Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗), despite acknowledging that both parties have similar stances over the matter.

Both the DPP and New Power Party (NPP) proposed a draft resolution in response to demonstrators’ requests during a rally in Taipei on Sunday afternoon. The People First Party (PFP) said it would respect the decision made by the other parties.

About 10,000 people gathered outside the Legislative Yuan on Sunday for a rally in support of the mass protests by the citizens of Hong Kong. They were demanding the withdrawal of the extradition law amendments proposed by the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government.

The organizers, including Taiwan-based Hong Kong students, residents, and civil groups from around the country, urged Taiwan’s legislature to pass a resolution voicing its support for protesters’ demands and condemning the Hong Kong government for its violence against protesters on Wednesday (June 12).

The KMT is very concerned about the situation in Hong Kong, said KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚). The party issued a statement last week, urging the Hong Kong authorities to handle the protests in a peaceful manner and to respond to the requests of Hong Kong’s citizens, he said.

In another statement issued ahead of the legislative session on Monday, the KMT asked the DPP government to establish mechanisms for mutual legal assistance with Hong Kong, based on similar agreements Taiwan has made with China.

DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) argued the party did not disrupt the legislative procedures, and that the KMT should not lump different issues together.

“I hope the legislature can be unanimous in its attitude” toward the Hong Kong protests, added Ker, as this would reflect well on the legislature’s “image.”

DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), who took part in Sunday’s rally in Taipei, said it was “disappointing” that the KMT decided to boycott the resolution.

NPP Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said it would be “meaningful” if the legislature shared a stance over the extradition bill amendments, which would have an impact on Taiwan’s people should it be passed by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has tried to blame the lack of mutual legal assistance between Taiwan and Hong Kong for the Taiwan government’s unwillingness to cooperate, added Hsu.