Sat, Jan 22, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Goodbye, but thanks for nothing

The Fifth Legislative Yuan came to an end yesterday after an all-night marathon. The political fallout of the presidential and legislative elections meant this legislature was rife with inter-party opposition, boycotts and deadlock, and it is difficult to be satisfied with the quality of debate or the efficiency of the legislative process.

Although the legislature met for 28 hours on its final day, many bills were still left unattended to. Only 56 bills were passed during the whole session. Neither the organic law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法), the ethnic fairness law (族群平等法) nor the overhaul of labor legislation were passed.

Since a legislative session cannot be extended, the next legislature must start anew, and society as a whole must pay the price for the postponement of reforms. Such lack of efficiency is unacceptable in a modern society.

One bill that was passed earlier in the session was the controversial March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute" (三一九槍擊事件真相調查特別委員會條例). The Council of Grand Justices later decided that some of the statute's articles violated the Constitution. But the Executive Yuan also violated the law in executing its right of opposition. The actions of both government and opposition are negative examples of the rule of law.

Then there was the legislature's refusal to review and confirm nominees to the Control Yuan, a move that violates the Constitution and the duties of legislators. It means that the Control Yuan will not be formed within the legally stipulated time, and this still has to be dealt with.

In terms of budget scrutiny, opposition legislators obstructed and voted down requests to include the NT$610.8 billion special arms budget in the legislative agenda. This will not only demoralize the military but is detrimental to national security. The international community will be right to be skeptical of our determination to defend ourselves if law-makers are reluctant to purchase advanced weapons. This could further strain relations with Washington.

As the political stalemate between the governing and opposition parties remains, the opposition abused their legislative majority by slashing the government's annual revenue request by NT$110 billion, almost causing a budget deficit of NT$70 billion. Thanks to the timely intervention of Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jing-pyng (王金平) and Vice Speaker Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤), both the governing and opposition parties reconvened and negotiated, limiting the budget deficit to NT$1.1 billion.

The deliberate obstruction by the opposition parties of the budget will cause the deficit to grow and will affect the privatization of state-run enterprises. Even more vicious is the retaliatory manner in which the government and opposition approached the budget.

Because the pan-blue legislators were unhappy with the grand justices ruling on the 319 committee, they revoked the professional payment for judges listed in the budget. The Government Information Office's miscellaneous funds were also rejected because broadcasting channels are to be restructured. There was even a rumor that four lawmakers facing charges of electoral fraud had offered to support various budget allocations if the charges were dropped.

The government, the lawmakers and society are all losers with the closing of the Fifth Legislative Yuan. Hopefully President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will make some progress in mediating between the parties and usher in a period of inter-party cooperation during the Sixth Legislative Yuan's term. Hopefully the opposition parties will mature and prove they can monitor the government and balance its power, instead of being content to induce a state of paralysis which serves neither the parties nor society.

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