This morning at the ROC Constitutional Law Association, President Ma made four statements regarding the Assembly and Parade Law. The Wild Strawberries Movement’s responses to these statements are as follows:
First, President Ma pointed out that for the past eight years, he supported amending the Parade and Assembly Law under which event organizers are obliged to obtain police permission before holding rallies, to enable an application-only process. We ask the President to immediately put into action his support.
Second, President Ma said that even under current regulations, 99.2% of applications are approved, which does not differ substantially from systems where approval is unnecessary. However, who are those 0.8 percent of people prohibited from demonstration? Who is authorized to decide whether to approve certain events or not? In reality, .08% is an underestimation, since many disadvantaged groups are unable to gain approval due to the practical difficulties of application.
Third, President Ma claimed that even though he supports the amendment to the Parade and Assembly Law, after the conflicts during the visit of Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), public attitudes toward the issue have become more conservative. Thus, Ma said that now the public consensus on this issue should be considered. However, we want to ask on what evidence the Presidents claim that “public attitudes have become more conservative” is based. In addition, we believe that this issue has become a focus of public attention. Given all this, the Legislative Yuan should have an official mechanism to channel the public consensus into legislative action, rather than having citizen attendance at meetings that offer no substantive engagement with the citizenry.
Finally, President Ma said that he will invite the sit-in students to participate in the discussion held by the Legislative Yuan on the amendment to the Assembly and Parade Law. We appreciate the President’s response, but we have not received an official invitation from the Legislative Yuan. We hope that under the conditions of equality and mutual trust, we will participate as citizens and have the right to a voice in the meeting.
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