Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Legislative blitz is a shameful circus

True to form, the circus that is the Legislative Yuan ended the legislative session on Tuesday by burning the midnight oil to clear the heap of proposals and amendments in a show of efficiency, with lawmakers munching on late-night snacks on the legislative floor as they rushed to pass bills before the legislature adjourned for the spring recess.

Having failed to review the central government’s budget for this fiscal year, however, the legislature resolved yesterday to hold a provisional session today.

The less than stellar performance of the legislature since it convened in September has had many a critic shaking their head. Perhaps even more deplorable were complaints by some lawmakers yesterday that the provisional session would interfere with their vacation, as some had already purchased plane tickets and made commitments for group tours.

Have those legislators forgotten who put them in the legislature in the first place and that their role is to serve their constituents?

Rather than fret about sudden changes to their vacation plans, any responsible legislator would feel ashamed at wasting taxpayers’ money for the additional session.

After all, it was their inefficiency and months of foot-dragging that made the extra session necessary in the first place.

Some lawmakers could disagree with accusations of inefficiency by pointing to the 50 motions that were passed by the legislature in the four-hour marathon on Tuesday.

Eleventh-hour efficiency, perhaps. But quality? No.

The public could not care less about the number of bills passed in any given legislative session — that’s for bean counters and this isn’t what Taiwanese expect.

What matters is the quality of the legislation passed, its impact on people’s lives as well as on the development of the country.

Lawmakers are hardly in a position to vaunt their accomplishments, or claim that they fulfilled their mandate to keep the Executive Yuan in check, when so many bills, long stuck in limbo, are passed all at once, without appropriate debate on the floor.

Not to mention that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-controlled legislature once again failed to pass many of the much-anticipated “sunshine bills” that aim to eliminate government corruption and ensure clean politics — this despite a pledge by the government and the KMT caucus to make the passage of those bills a priority.

Perhaps more would be accomplished if legislators didn’t spend so much time talking drivel and bickering like children.

Perhaps the public would regain its trust in them if legislators rolled up their sleeves and for once acted as a responsible voice of the people.

As long as we allow the deplorable tradition of eleventh-hour blitzes in the legislature, however, we should not expect much more from them.

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