Wed, Aug 22, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Facing the enemy within

Last week the Council of Grand Justices issued Interpretation No. 632, ruling that "it is damaging to the overall national constitutional system for the president to neglect to submit Control Yuan nominations, or for the Legislative Yuan not to exercise its authority to give its approval, and neither is tolerated by the Constitution."

The judges have tactfully avoided directly blaming the legislators by saying they are acting "unconstitutionally." But this did not stop Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Tseng Yuan-chuan (曾永權) from shamelessly lashing out and accusing the judges of "interfering in the autonomy of the legislature's affairs" and "wanting to supersede the legislature." The KMT caucus believes that it is up to the legislature's Procedure Committee to set the agenda and that it has the sole right and authority to discuss proposals. Of course the legislature has the power to decide when to deliberate laws. But when it has blocked nominations for two years, refusing to either discuss or reject them, that is not merely a matter of setting the agenda. That is a political boycott. This has prevented the Control Yuan from functioning for two years and is a blatant example of unconstitutional behavior.

Nevertheless, despite the constitutional interpretation, the KMT refuses to admit its wrongdoing. Taiwan's five-branch government is often criticized for having superfluous appendages. The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposals for constitutional amendments or rewriting the Constitution advocate doing away with the Examination Yuan and Control Yuan and simply retaining the Executive Yuan, the legislature and the Judicial Yuan. Ironically, it is the KMT that supports the five-branch structure. Therefore it is hard to understand why the pan-blue camp has essentially scrapped one of those branches by paralyzing it.

Every time one of the many recurring government scandals emerges, the KMT attacks the DPP with its standard virulent rhetoric. Yet aside from venting their anger in the legislature, the legislators do not have the power to do much else other than yell. Some have threatened to refer the case to the Control Yuan for censure or impeachment, seemingly forgetting that they put it out of commission some time ago. The absence of the Control Yuan not only leaves the government short of one of its oversight bodies and incapacitates one of the checks and balances, but it also affects the entire nation. In the two years that it has been stalled, many important cases have been held up, stuck outside the Control Yuan's boarded doors.

Refusing to deal with President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nominations is political suicide for the KMT. The Constitution provides that the legislature can decide whether or not to accept certain nominations, but it has no right to paralyze the Control Yuan by refusing to consider the nominations indefinitely. Moreover, this behavior infringes on the constitutional powers granted to the president and the Control Yuan.

The legislature should immediately address the nominations for auditor general, the Control Yuan and the Council of Grand Justices. The KMT's meaningless boycott not only damages the Constitution, the functioning of the government and the nation's overall interests, but also hurts the party itself.

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