Parties bicker over Sunflower anniversary

Parties bicker over Sunflower anniversary
Tsai Ing-wen.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The nation's major political parties took different stances on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the student demonstrations and subsequent occupation of the Legislative Yuan on March 18 of last year. Students, along with numerous civil organisations vowed to return to the area today to voice their demands.

The demonstration, known as the Sunflower Movement ignited last year over the issue of legislative oversight, in which students demanded new review mechanisms for the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement after the Kuomintang (KMT) caucus completed the review in 30 seconds.

Parties Alone Cannot Bring Change: Tsai

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said that the party would not seek to gain or bask in the light of the student-led movement, but also that it had no intention of deliberately distancing itself from them. Tsai made the remarks at a book launch yesterday in Taipei, in which she said that the DPP's reflection over the Sunflower Movement included extending the definition of a political party's role in society to be "a vehicle" for social change. She credited the student movement for opening a new historical moment, and that politics today needed to stand with the people.

DPP Legislator Ho Hsin-chun criticised the government's increased security presence in the area, calling the positioning of military police with anti-riot gear reminiscent to China's posture before the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

KMT Legislator Chiang Chi-chen questioned Premier Mao Chi-kuo over the course of cross-strait ties on the eve of the Sunflower Movement. Mao replied that society had learned much from the movement, and that it needed to set its sights forward and use peaceful means to respect differing opinions.

Meanwhile, KMT Policy Committee Director Lai Shyh-bao indicated that the constitution reform committee at the Legislative Yuan would begin operation on March 26. He also stated that the Cross-Strait Agreement Supervisory Act would be dealt with after general questioning in the Legislature.

Police Presence

The Taipei City Police Department Zhongzhen First Precinct stated that it would send 150 police personnel to maintain order outside the Legislative Yuan, but it would not install barricades.

The deputy chief of the precinct said that an application from the Economic Democracy Union had been received for a demonstration from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow. He added that negotiations were ongoing concerning the Union's application to demonstrate in the area from March 21 to 23.

The Economic Democracy Union, a civil organisation, was formed on the basis of protesting the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement.

Road traffic in the areas of Zhenjiang Street and Zhongshan South Road will be restricted to one eastbound lane beginning at 10 a.m. today.

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