A few days ago, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus instructed its legislators to boycott the regular assessments carried out by Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) and told them not to provide the group with information.
KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said the reason for boycotting the group was that it had initiated a campaign to recall legislators who supported allowing imports of beef containing traces of leanness-enhancing feed additives. Lin said the boycott initiative showed that the group was not fair and impartial.
This kind of move is nothing new for CCW. In 1998, when the group started assessing the performance of members of the Seventh Legislature, the KMT issued a stern order not to cooperate with the assessments and it did not stop there. KMT lawmakers filed a string of legal complaints aimed at ruining the organization’s credibility, in some cases seeking civil damages as a means of forcing it into submission.
What was the outcome of that?
CCW is an alliance formed by more than 40 civic groups, each of which has been through too many fights to be so easily intimidated.
More importantly, in the course of so many legal hearings, the law courts have examined the standards and procedures employed by the organization in its assessments from start to finish, as well as finding out who takes part in the process and how CCW announces its findings.
Judges have seen for themselves that everything CCW does is open, transparent, fair and not biased in favor of any political party, and that it has never intentionally slandered any legislator.
As a result, all the legislators who sued CCW either withdrew their complaints or lost in court. Is this not a clear refutation of what Lin said?
Actually, nobody is less qualified than Lin to criticize CCW, given that in his campaign for re-election in January, he kept citing that he had taken first place in CCW’s assessments of lawmakers’ performances to prove that he was worthy of voters’ confidence.
Now that he is party whip, it is funny to see Lin slapping himself in the face by turning around and criticizing CCW.
On the other hand, maybe he has no choice but to go along with less conscientious legislative colleagues who come in near the bottom in CCW’s assessments and are afraid of being shown up as poor performers in the eyes of voters.
We would respectfully advise those in charge of the KMT caucus that the right way of going about things would be to encourage the party’s legislators to try and get a good score in the CCW’s assessments.
Doing so would help restore the public’s faith in representative democracy. Taiwan faces a lot of thorny issues at the moment, but the long-suffering public has the impression that those in government are not competent to deal with them.
If the ruling party’s legislators fail to speak out on behalf of their constituents and instead spend their time trying to undermine people’s faith in the CCW, they will only end up being held in even greater contempt.
As to the matter of US beef, it is wrong to think that when civic groups have the courage to speak out on public issues, it means that they are taking sides with one party or another.
Let us not forget how, on Jan. 1, 1999, CCW mobilized 3,000 people to surround the Legislative Yuan in protest against the freezing of the Public Television Service’s (PTS) budget and ill-advised amendments to the Public Television Act (公共電視法).