Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Who are lawmakers serving?

Unsurprisingly, the Legislative Yuan ended its spring session in chaos, failing to pass a number of critical bills that seriously affect the livelihoods of ordinary people and the national interest.

Amendments to the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) failed for a third time after physical confrontation between the governing and opposition parties. The pan-greens stopped the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) from putting the amendment to a vote on the legislative floor. The pan-blues, in return, blocked all of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposals, and the legislature went into its summer recess on Tuesday amid pandemonium.

While legislators never cease to entertain -- or embarrass -- the public by putting on antics such as water-fights, cup-tossing, spitting and all-out wrestling matches, one expects that these so-called lawmakers could at least have made themselves useful during the past three months. They could have, say, voted on bills -- the reason they were elected to office.

But no.

Other than passing amendments to the Statute Governing Charity Donations (公益勸募條例) and the Tax Income Law (所得稅法) among a few others, almost no important bills were enacted during the spring session.

In all, 75 bills were passed, even less than the 86 passed in the previous session.

A number of critical bills that affect the country's economic performance and development failed to pass, including budget bills pertaining to public infrastructure, flood-control projects, investment projects by state-owned enterprises and unfreezing around NT$200 billion in revenue meant for the central government.

This is not to mention the long-stalled review of the state public prosecutor-general nominee, approval of Control Yuan members and the arms-procurement plan. Also, the draft labor insurance supervisory commission organic law, which provides for more rigorous management of the nation's pension funds, went nowhere.

And what about amendments to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) that were to pave the way for government restructuring and administrative efficiency? With the typhoon season upon us, the special budget for flood-prevention projects would also seem to be rather urgent, as flooding puts lives and property in jeopardy.

Leaving these major bills in abeyance not only seriously hobbles the government's operations, but has also halted a number of major public construction plans.

While the DPP caucus had urged holding a provisional session during the summer recess to deliberate on key bills, the pan-blue camp said it would not agree to such a meeting if the pan-greens continued to block the PFP's proposal on direct links.

It is apparent that to the pan-blues, passing the PFP's amendment on direct links and allowing direct travel between Taiwan and China mattered more than the lives and safety of the people who live in flood-prone areas.

One can't help but wonder who would really benefit from direct links. Would it be the general public?

Or would it be a handful of business conglomerates? Or would it be to further the goal of "ultimate unification" between Taiwan and China, as KMT Chairman Ma Ying?jeou (馬英九) puts it?

Let's hope that the lawmakers come to their senses soon, rather than holding Taiwan hostage to their own self-interest.

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