Taiwan Voice 2014/03/26 (Facebook)
Press Conference with Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting
It is often overheard that the student protesters (coming from the top universities in Taiwan) outmatch the Ma administration intellectually, but yet they are still portrayed as troublemakers. Here is a transcript of a press conference with two of the student leaders following the mayhem at the Executive Yuan that shows these students are thoughtful, smart, and resolute.
Press Conference with Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting at 9:30 after President Ma’s press conference held on the morning of March 24
Lin Fei-Fan: Of course, members of the the student movement group are bound to hold different opinions. But even if there were differences, they were slight ones concerning strategy; our cause and demands have remained consistent. From both what happened yesterday afternoon and evening when they occupied the Executive Yuan, it simply showed that we were trying to seek any possibility of negotiation between the government and the students through various means.
Reporter: Do you worry that the situation might go out of control?
Lin Fei-Fan: I have been thinking about every possibility that might have caused these uncontrolled situations, and no doubt the Ma Government shoulders the greatest responsibility. Why would people storm into the Executive Yuan under one command? They were enraged by the Ma Government, because during yesterday morning's press conference, Ma Ying-jeou avoided responding directly to our plea and sounded much like a broken record playing government propaganda. That was the last straw for the protesting students who sat peacefully for six days. They had to take the next step. So I believe my fellow studen, after yesterday's protest, that they understand “victory is only possible when we persist calmly and steadily”.
Reporter: Should the services trade pact be sent back for a line-by-line review? Should it be put through a vote at the legislature or be returned to the legislative committee for review?
Chen Wei-Ting: Our demand has always been the same: the review should only be conducted AFTER passing a bill to monitor cross-strait agreements, and only by doing so can we establish a model and standard for truly democratic review procedure. President Ma mentioned South Korea yesterday, but actually the review process in South Korea’s FTA negotiation with China is more rigorous than Taiwan. He argued that the reason for not establishing such bill was because the four guidelines that have been established by the Executive Yuan. But “guidelines” do not supersede the legal status of law. Also, explaining the content of the agreement to the public and enabling the review process are two totally different matters. We are not completely against the services trade pact, but we want to first establish a bill to ensure that members of the parliament can directly review the trade pact and the people can directly participate in its process, and conduct the review afterwards.
Reporter: Some claimed that you have deliberately planned and initiated the conflict yesterday afternoon, to divert the police’s attention and make way for occupying the Executive Yuan? Is that true?
Chen Wei-Ting: The conflict was not premeditated. I only noticed there was commotion outside when I walked out to go to the bathroom. I have been told frequently that a lot of people outside the parliament building are very emotional and exasperated. Still, it is definitely not our plan.
(Journalists asked him to use microphone so that everyone inside the parliament could hear his reply. They say thank you for your hard work. Applause from the entire crowd.)
Lin Fei-Fan: Asking now if this conflict was premeditated is totally pointless. What you should be asking is, why are there so many young people furious, what fueled their discontent? The Ma administration of course. During yesterday’s morning press conference, he did not respond directly to the demand of the students who have been sitting in for six days straight. So asking questions like “is it premeditated” or “is there an internal conflict” is meaningless. I think the question you should be asking now is: How should the Ma administration deal with their discontent? This should be the focus.
Reporter: Do you worry that the public opinion might be shifted after the occupation of the Executive Yuan?
Lin Fei-Fan: Right now, our stance is: before the Ma administration meet our demand or is willing to open a dialogue with us, we will not leave here voluntarily. We believe the most important thing right now is to call for more concerned citizens to participate. Their faith and courage should not falter as a result of yesterday’s suppression by the police. Instead, they should firmly believe in a more affirmative, proactive, peaceful yet unyielding action so we might have a chance of victory.
Responding to reporter’s questions about the bill to monitor Cross-Strait agreements:
Chen Wei-Ting: I mentioned the signing of a bill to monitor Cross-Strait agreements, which would require all political parties to sign a consent, guarantee that they would promote and ensure the legislative passing of this bill. Only by doing so can we have a complete parliament monitoring mechanism, where the public can participate in the review process of Cross-Strait agreements, achieve true openness and transparency of future review processes and ensure the protection of rights and the people’s voice be heard.
Reporter: Regarding the strikes and students’ boycott of classes that will soon follow and the huge impact they will have on nationwide economy, do you have a detailed plan for it?
Chen Wei-ting: Of course strikes will impact the economic activities in our nation. But I ask, doesn’t the services trade pact impact the whole nation’s economic activities as well?
Loud applause from the entire crowd
Chen Wei-ting: What I meant was, the services trade pact will have a huge impact on nationwide economic activities. We are not mandating any strikes or student boycott of classes. Therefore, if there are strikes, it would totally be voluntary and acted out on their own will. Only by doing so will these strikes generate the desired impact. When these workers realize how much the services trade pact will affect them and decides to go on strike, it is the people’s choice, the decision is theirs.
Reporter: Some question the two of you cannot represent all the people in Taiwan, yet you occupied Taiwan’s parliament. We want to know your response to these people’s comments.
Lin Fei-Fan: I believe there are all kinds of opinions out there, all of which we respect. We occupied the parliament because it was not functioning properly. Our goal is very clear: we want the parliament to function properly. During the occupation, we seek a more institutionalized solution that comply with the rule of law. Actually what we are doing is quite simple, we are not attempting to represent all these other different opinions.
Reporters: Some see occupying the Legislative Yuen is a waste of the taxpayers’ money.
Lin Fei-Fan: I think what really is squandering the taxpayer’s money is a parliament that is not properly run and has lost even its most basic and normal function in supervising democracy. (Applause)
Reporter: Hsiao Chia-chi, Deputy Minister of the Interior discovered that cakes in his office have been eaten and his spare change stolen. What do you think of that?
Lin Fei-Fan: We know that those who entered the Executive Yuan consisted of different groups and individuals. If there had been money missing, or cakes been eaten without permission, we do not encourage such actions. If these incidents are proven true, then you should have Hsiao Chia-chi report to the police and have them collect evidence. If he has solid proof, he can file a charge against the suspect. If his properties were damaged, this is what he should do.
Reporter: Will boycotting classes achieve the desired result?
Lin Fei-Fan: We have only called for students to go on strike starting today. Yesterday some of those NTU professors held a press conference on campus, voicing support for our demand. We want to take one step further, so that the professors can go on strike too. How do we evaluate the result? To be honest, there is no need for such evaluation. All you need to do is stand out, participate in our action, take to the streets, and keep on defending this place persistently. There really is no need to evaluate. (Loud Applause)
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