Thu, Sep 08, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Legislative Yuan must be publicly monitored

By Liu Kuan-teh 劉冠德

The Legislative Yuan will reconvene next Tuesday, amid hopes that a prolonged political standoff between the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the pan-blue opposition can finally end.

Although a new opportunity to break the ice has appeared, continued distrust still obstructs rational and healthy interaction between the government and the pan-blue legislators.

The year-end local elections will further darken the opportunity for constructive interaction between the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration and the opposition, because both camps will rail at each other to win support from voters. Without any doubt, the Legislative Yuan will become an arena for political wrestling.

Chen and his DPP colleagues have shown goodwill to the pan-blue camp by adjusting the controversial budget for the purchase of three major defensive weapon systems from the US in the hope of receiving a friendly response from the opposition.

Chen's appeal was supported by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). Wang suggested that the bill should at the very least be freed from the boycott imposed by the pan-blue majority in the legislature's Procedure Committee and properly referred to the National Defense Committee for review and open discussion.

Regretfully, legislators from the People First Party (PFP) remain steadfast in blocking the budget. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the new chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has also expressed reservations about passing the bill.

In addition to that long-delayed bill, numerous urgently needed budgets and draft laws related to the people's livelihood are also awaiting review and passage. These include the special NT$80 billion (US$2.46 billion) flood prevention budget, governmental streamlining in the draft revisions to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法), a bill establishing a national communications commission, the organic bill of the supervisory and management commission of the labor retirement fund, the confirmation of Chen's nominees to the Control Yuan and revisions to the Referendum Law (公民投票法).

The public favors an end to legislative obstructionism and villainy and an opening of rational dialogue between the governing and opposition parties.

Untying the political knot depends primarily on the KMT's new leadership, especially Ma. The extent to which Ma can avoid interference from his predecessor Lien Chan (連戰) in KMT decision-making and establish a fresh image for the pan-blue camp as a "loyal opposition" will determine whether his leadership will fulfill public expectations.

Ma should take the initiative by making a fresh start and abandoning the KMT's past destructive strategy of boycotting everything proposed by Chen. He should also try to persuade the PFP to stop putting its narrow partisan interests above the public good.

Ma should persuade his allies in the PFP to heed the public's will. Instead of being held hostage by the PFP over nominations for local elections, Ma should should put into practice his theory of bringing moderation and pragmatism into Taiwanese politics.

The government should also refrain from engaging in a war with the pan-blue opposition. Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) call for a "no-confidence vote" by the legislature was politically impractical and unhelpful to reconciliation. The government should rely on persuasion and communication with the opposition and let the public decide who should take the blame for hindering policy implementation.

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