Sun, Oct 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

`Peace' bill compromise is violating democracy

By Wang Chien-chuang 王健壯

Although it has been a long time since People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) left the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the KMT is still struggling to escape his influence. During elections, it often has to consider him and also strike compromises with him in the legislature.

Compromise in itself is nothing bad, but if it is an awkward compromise whose only goal is to join the two parties, then it is no longer a compromise, but rather becomes a matter of hypocrisy or even appeasement.

Take the cross-strait peace advancement bill, for example. No one opposes cross-strait peace, but anyone who has a basic understanding of constitutional matters and takes a look at the bill must conclude that the legislature must not pass this piece of legislation.

Why? Because it violates the Constitution and therefore is not a law that should be passed in a country adhering to constitutional politics.

There are both public and party considerations behind the PFP's draft. The public motive is that since the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) accession to power, it has taken a passive approach to cross-strait issues, with lots of slogans and little action. Therefore, since the executive has done nothing, the legislative branch has to take over.

The party's selfish motive, however, is Soong's interest in the cross-strait relationship. After his presidential failure, he became even more bent on leaving his legacy in the area of cross-strait relations. The bill is thus entirely about etching Soong's name into the annals of history.

The legislature's attempt to pass laws to counteract the executive's inaction may be constitutional, but if the legislature expands its powers to the point where it replaces the executive, it violates both constitutional powers and the spirit of representative democracy.

One example of this is the peace advancement bill's special cross-strait negotiation council. It would be so powerful that it could sign a cross-strait peace agreement, as well as educational, financial and free trade deals, agreements with non-governmental organizations and so on, making it almost omnipotent.

The problem is that the peace advancement bill would become a permanent law, and not an ad hoc law such as the 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute. Ad hoc laws have an expiry date, whereas permanent legislation is for ever.

That means that even though the shooting committee could substitute the executive for a time, it would be dissolved as soon as the "truth" was exposed. If cross-strait peace is not achieved, however, the special cross-strait negotiation council would forever usurp the powers of the executive.

What's more, this concentration of cross-strait policymaking, legislative, executive and judicial power in the hands of 17 specially appointed members in a single institution with special powers is no different from an oligarchy. No matter how impotent the DPP government, there surely is no need to move toward oligarchy.

The peace advancement bill would turn Chen's "five noes" and the controversial "1992 consensus" into law, and this shows a lack of intelligence. The DPP will never accept that there is such a thing as the "1992 consensus," so how could they let it be written into a law?

Unless the KMT can distance itself from the PFP on the peace advancement bill issue and from Soong, it will never be able to free itself from Soong's influence. Furthermore, the Grand Justices will probably deem it unconstitutional anyway. KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is a lawyer. Why would he let the KMT pass unconstitutional legislation and sacrifice the party on the PFP's altar?

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