Ma Ying-Jeou’s Speech On 329

Ma Ying-Jeou’s Speech On 329

Ma Ying-Jeou's speech on the night of March 29th, the day before the mass mobilization on 330

The following is the text of Ma Ying-Jeou’s speech on the night of 329, the day before the mass mobilization on 330. The original Chinese language text can be seen here.


Friends in the media, fellow government officials, all those sitting in front of the television or in front of the radio, or all fellow countrymen and comrades watching via Livestream, good evening! Hello everyone! At this time, students have opposed the Legislative Yuan over the issue of the CSSTA, leading to a large controversy in Taiwanese society. On the Internet, citizens have been exchanging different sharp criticisms, and calling for a clarification of positions. Because people cannot tolerate each other’s opinions, they have been deleting their friends on Facebook. I feel that, like me, the people feel the same way, that this is hard to endure and is hurtful. On 323, people broke the law in occupying the Executive Yuan, leading to forced evictions from the police. On that night, I was quite shocked, and I felt my heart in pain, and had a hard time sleeping.

At this point, at this time, the problem we confront is that the legislature could originally discuss how to address the CSSTA issue in the Legislative Yuan, but recent events have led to a paralysis of the legislature and a legislative deadlock. These two days, citizens with conflicting views have taken to the streets and the situation is constantly changing. As president, I must state my concerns and expectations: Of course the CSSTA must be discussed, but Taiwan must stay united! Society must remain calm and orderly! As we see on the news, many young people have taken to the streets, and in a rational fashion have held resolutely to their views. That students have been willing to sacrifice their everyday lives to express their views has moved the people. This clear proof of Taiwan’s democratization. The path walked by young people is a hard one, but it is not one without harvest. Student movements are a sign that young people are concerned with society and have concretely put into practice and participated in democracy. I have always held student movements in a high regard. Forty years ago, when I was studying in America, I also participated in student movements. In Minguo 79 (民國 79), I also went to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial to sit down and have a dialogue with students. This position of mine and attitude of mine has never changed.    

On the basis of these values, with regard to past twelve days, I sent my best regards to students sitting peacefully outside of the Legislative Yuan, every sits there carefully reading through the contents of the CSSTA, listening to the speeches of experts and scholars, expressing their views creativity in their advertising materials, and with the those responsible for maintaining order keeping an orderly set of circumstances. This is worth recognizing, and this has allowed all of the nation to see the liveliness and potential of young people.

But on the other hand, towards the occupying students, I must also express, no matter how many members of the people whose views the students’ actions may reflect, occupying the Legislative Yuan is something which has led to the paralysis of official government business, damaged public property, and is not appropriate, In particular, on the night of March 23rd, when some students and members of the citizenry tried to force their way into the Executive Yuan, I believe that the majority of society must have been shocked, wondering how a protest movement could go so out of control? Of course, out of control behavior led to clashes, leading all of Taiwan to feel worried. It was a long struggle for Taiwan to establish democracy, how could it go in this direction? It should be democratic mechanisms which resolve large-scale public policy, would this break down? Many people worry, if civil society groups all hold firm to their principles of equality and justice, and forcibly occupy government mechanisms in order to request that everyone listen to their demands, is it not that in the future other civil society groups will follow this example and occupy the legislature as a means to accomplish their aims? Should Taiwanese democracy go down this path?

These doubts bubbled over in all of Taiwan that day, leading to worry from all of the elders and fellow countrymen to share the same feelings of worry. We recognize the passion of students in their participations, but all political demands must be founded upon the rule of law. We do not hope for an event like the 323 occupation of the Executive Yuan to happen again, otherwise Taiwan faces grave harm. I once again call on the student leaders who will lead students onto the streets tomorrow, I hope that everyone can be peaceful, and express their opinions in a rational way. I believe that this is the shared wish of all of the members of this country.

At this point in time, the Presidential Office has openly expressed many times, we invite the students to visit the Presidential Office to express their opinions without any preconditions whatsoever, with all of this this broadcast in a public manner, in order to hold dialogue on the CSSTA, resolve the current legislative deadlock, and facilitate the return to normalcy of the Legislative Yuan. I met with the heads of eleven universities in order to hold a discussion, they were willing to play the role of facilitators, but it is a shame that the students have not yet offered any direct response. Otherwise, there will be no way for these talks to occur, to aid dialogue between both sides, and for this, we should be grateful.

Regarding the legislative deadlock until now and the doubts of our countrymen and comrades, as president, I have reflected on this for a long time, and ask for guidance from all sides, and will respond to the four demands of the students here:

1) To Pass The Cross-Strait Oversight Bill

Yesterday, Executive Yuan head Jiang Yi-Hua (江宜樺) already clearly expressed in a press conference, the government has an open attitude towards this issue. Here, I will make a further promise: Support of the legalization of the Cross-Strait Oversight Bill (兩岸協議監督條例). I also call on the opposition party of the Legislative Yuan that I hope before the end of the present legislative session, we can complete the legalization of the Cross-Strait Oversight Bill.

In reality, the KMT caucus of the Legislative Yuan on February 19th already raised the need for a four-stage oversight mechanism, which the Executive Yuan was also willing to accept. This mechanism is a public oversight mechanism for cross-strait bills before they enter the Legislative Yuan, and it includes four stages: The topic formation, facilitation, before the signing of the agreement, after the signing of the agreement, The Mainland Affairs Council has already investigated the concrete measures to put this into play, and will announce this next week.

2) First, pass the Cross-Strait Oversight Bill, then provide oversight over the CSSTA

At present, the CSSTA has already returned to the original point it started out before the controversy began, which is line-by-line discussion and voting in the Legislative Yuan. This was the agreement last year with the opposition party, and this was also the first demand of the students’ on March 18th. The Presidential Office’s position is that this should proceed under the independent auspices of the Legislative Yuan,  and that the Presidential Office respects due process and advancement.

I affirmed earlier that I urge the legislators of the opposition party to speedily pass into law the Cross-Strait Oversight Bill. If in the future, cross-strait agreements that have or have not been signed are sent to the Legislative Yuan, this can be used as an oversight mechanism to provide exhaustive oversight. It is our basic position that an agreement that has been signed and sent to the Legislative Council for scrutiny can be reviewed at the same time, so as not to move back to committee reports or holding a public hearing.

3) Hold a public constitutional government meeting

With regard to the CSSTA, social discussion has been wide-ranging and exhaustive, the most in Taiwanese history. Concerning the views of different social sectors, to have this advance towards a “national assembly” or “ constitutional government meeting,” or a “trade consultation” meeting, I have already asked the Executive Yuan to provide a comprehensive assessment, to collect and organize views from different social sectors, and to speedily provide a report of their conclusions to everyone.

4) Repeal The CSSTA

It has been over nine months since the CSSTA was signed in June of last year and legally, the agreement has already moved into the stage of scrutiny from the Legislative Yuan. we support the Legislative Yuan discussing the agreement and voting on it line-by-line, but we do not support the Executive Yuan repealing the agreement, otherwise this will be a great harm to Taiwan!

We advocate the CSSTA for the revitalization of Taiwan’s service industry and ensuring the kinetic energy of Taiwan’s economy, and this has benefits regarding the integration of Taiwan into the Asian economy. These three points are very important for Taiwan. I want to draw on some points which have been raised by experts and industrial leaders in this day. As Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南), governor of the Central Bank of China, said: “Taiwan needs to expand outward, Taiwan cannot be marginalized. The CSSTA will help Taiwan integrate itself into the world economy.” Lai Zhengyi (賴正鎰), head of the General Chamber of Commerce stated: “I hope the students in the Legislative Yuan return to their schools and allow the Legislative Yuan to resume proper functioning order, and allow the CSSTA to be scrutinized line-by-line,” and Bruce CH Cheng (鄭崇華), president of Delta Electronics, stated “The CSSTA will not have a negative effect on Taiwan, and it should not be delayed too long, it should quickly pass.” According to the newest investigation reports this week, out of 13 economic department heads in universities in this country, 12 support the CSSTA because they believe that it will have a positive effect on Taiwan’s economy.

This is all to demonstrate the importance of the CSSTA. According to the assessments and investigations of the Chung-Hwa Institution of Economic Research, after the signing of the CSSTA, our exports to China from the service trade industry will increase by 37%, a gross output increase of 12 billion NTD, and the creation of 12,000 new jobs. Supporting the CSSTA is to support Taiwan’s service industry, job market, and economy. The government also earmarked 98.2 billion NTD to support industries that may be affected. The CSSTA is a part of the ECFA and the ECFA is a bilateral trade agreement under the WTO. If the CSSTA does not pass, this will hurt our nation’s economic credibility and push towards trade liberalization, will affect our chances to join the TPP and the RCEP. This will harm Taiwan’s economic future as a whole. If you know what will benefit Taiwan yet stand still without movement, whither Taiwan?

The above is my response to the student’s four demands.

Ying-jeou [1] will explain to the students, these few days the government, and related commercial, and research institutions have responded to these demands, so far as we are able to. Some need time before they are able to. Some are disadvantageous to Taiwan’s economy, and some are hard to take care of. What we can do, we are willing to do, even if indeed this is hard to accomplish. We will also answer honestly in the hopes that everyone can understand, seeing as we cannot irresponsibly mislead the people. Some of the demonstrating students will not be able to accept these answers. This is not important. Democracy is inherently as process of “Majority rule, respecting the rights of the minority, and accepting disagreements.”  I wholeheartedly hope that those with differing opinions must reasonably and peacefully discuss and respect this. I hope everyone can in the spirit of democracy, rule of law, and coexistence, learn to respect differences of opinions, and gradually establish consensus.

I also earnestly call on the opposition party to remember that the students are pure and earnest. On Ketagalan Boulevard tomorrow, it is possible that a political party could seize the opportunity to stoke the passion of the masses and this could lead to conflict. In the end, no-one will be happy. Majority speaker Wang Jinpyng has already overseen cross-party consultations many times and been unable to achieve consensus, and the DPP has already declared that it has withdrawn from consultations. I earnestly implore speaker Wang to continue to push energetically, to compile the views of the opposition party, and bring out the Legislative Yuan’s ability, and call on the opposition party to return to cross-party consultations under the moderation of speaker Wang in order to quickly reach consensus. I also hope that speaker Wang can help the students withdraw from the Legislative Yuan quickly in order that the Legislative Yuan can resume its proper functioning.

I spoke with the heads of eleven colleges yesterday, asked for their help, and listened attentively to their views. They told me that the students’ views are very naive, that apart from that the oversight process for the CSSTA must be transparent, and the process just, they are concerned about their future work opportunities, their future prospects, and the entire circumstances. This we sincerely recognize as their aims in striving for.

I would like to express to the young people in the Legislative Yuan, as well as to all the countrymen and comrades preparing to march on Ketagalan Boulevard, my heart’s innermost and deepest feelings: I have heard you! To all those worried, I understand your concern. This is the responsibility of the government. I hope to have the opportunity to sit down and discuss deeply with everyone in the future, regarding salaries, employment, homes, raising children, and other topics, as well as Taiwan’s economic future. We can exchange views, to urgently find countermeasures. I sincerely hope that it is not the passions of young people shouting for the sake of Taiwan, but through calm reflection, that we can find a path for Taiwan.

Students, the countrymen have already seen everyone’s hard work, which has allowed the CSSTA to be seen as an important issue by the citizens and allowed the cross-strait oversight mechanisms to become stronger than ever. The countrymen will not forget everyone’s perseverance and passion. Now, what is needed is consideration, and for the legislature to be returned.

Fellow passionate countrymen and comrades, we all care for Taiwan. We may have different views towards public policies, but we are all in the same boat. We all have the mission responsibility of protecting Taiwan for future generations. At this point, at this time, we must for the sake of Taiwan’s unity believe in democratic process, which is the best means of resolving conflict. Only in this way can Taiwan continue to advance. God bless Taiwan, let us work together for Taiwan!


[1] It is fairly common in Taiwanese political discourse for politicians to refer to themselves in the third-person, as a means of making personal appeals to the audience. This was particularly notable in Chen Shui-Bian, the first DPP president of Taiwan, and Ma may mean to imitate this characteristic of Chen’s in appealing to Sunflower Movement activists, who are more often pan-Green than pan-Blue.


Photo credit: Hang Dapeng/Apple Daily