Mon, Sep 19, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Breaking deadlock up to the people

By Hsu Yung-ming 徐永明

Maybe Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) really is a seer and was able to predict the current awkward political situation.

Before the new legislative session began on Tuesday, he had already taken the example of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to heart and requested that the pan-blue camp, if it didn't support the Cabinet's flood control bill, overturn the government with a vote of no confidence and let President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) dissolve the legislature.

That Hsieh was blocked from delivering his policy report as scheduled on the legislative session's opening day shows he is an intelligent, far-sighted politician, albeit not clever enough to find a way out of his predicament. Instead, he sat there silently, like a character out of a Hemingway novel, waiting unhurried until the bitter end.

The call to dissolve the legislature is of course merely words and not a well thought out political plan. Since a new election would carry potentially high costs for incumbents, lawmakers from both the blue and green camps are unwilling to follow through on the call. And even if an election were to result in the pan-blue camp retaining its majority, it is still not certain that Chen would let them form a Cabinet, since the legislature no longer has the right to approve the premier. Here is why: Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is utterly unwilling to amend the Constitution. The only amendment he would agree to is giving the legislature power to ratify the appointment of the premier.

It is this constitutional shortcoming that has led to the past few years of political deadlock. The governing party's minority in the legislature dictated the development of the conflicts over both the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant four years ago and last year's clash over the 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute. Although the opposition tried to use the legislature to manipulate the shooting investigation issue, executive power remains in the hands of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The outcome, when the opposition forced the issue, was the unconstitutional and unworkable 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute. Faced with the opposition's obstruction, the DPP has been unable to move issues such as the arms purchase, the flood control bill or the right to approve Control Yuan members out of the Procedure Committee and have them passed into law.

Nor is it able to dissolve the legislature and put the issue to the public. This situation has created a political problem that is impacting the people of Taiwan and has become symbolic of the government's inability rule.

In fact, Chen cannot take the initiative to dissolve the legislature. Nor does the legislature have the right to ratify the appointment of the premier. Although the administration has been hampered by the pan-blue camp majority, it is really no more than harassment of the executive.

But the pan-blue camp remains in high spirits as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is clearly being urged on in his bid for the 2008 presidential election. By embarrassing Hsieh in the legislature, the pan-blue camp clearly believes that it can further boost Ma's chances.

This is probably why pan-blue legislators seem to have lost all sense of restraint. Even the sensible Ma seems pleased about their ridiculous performance, while the general public does not even seem to be bothered by the farce.

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