Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Political farce in Accounting Act error

By Chang Hung-lin 張宏林

During an extraordinary session on June 13, the legislature voted against an amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法) after the Cabinet officially requested that the legislature reconsider its earlier decision, thus bringing the issue back to square one.

This would seem to be the answer to public anger over the controversial amendment, but the question remains: Is this the responsible thing to do for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party, the People First Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU)?

The amendment was approved last month by the legislative caucuses in closed-door negotiations, an unconstitutional act that ignored the public’s will. Can such behavior be erased by simply reversing the decision?

Who should be held responsible for the failure to publicize the caucus negotiations as the law requires? It has been three weeks since the four caucuses held negotiations on May 31 and decided to pass the amendment, but the legislature still has not released the meeting records. Since Legislative Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hsi-shan (林錫山) was directly appointed by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), was it the Secretariat’s negligence, or did Wang issue an illegal order not to keep records of the meeting? Or, are they perhaps worried that the audio and video records are too embarrassing to be released?

The public has a right to know and Wang and the Secretariat must give the public a clear and definite answer.

As for the caucus whips, TSU whip Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) was the only one to resign her post. Who else should take the political responsibility? All four whips signed their names in support of the amendment, but after the Cabinet requested that the amendment be reconsidered, almost every legislator made a U-turn and voted against it. This is a rare occurrence in Taiwan and maybe even in world politics.

That lawmakers did not defend the amendment in the face of the Cabinet’s request that it be reconsidered showed their lack of confidence. The crude and unconstitutional amendment that infringed on the judiciary’s powers highlighted lawmakers’ lack of understanding of the legislative and democratic process. This piece of legislation flew in the face of public opinion and the question now is if legislators should be able to put an end to it all with a simple apology.

Are the public’s demands on their politicians so low? How much harm would it cause if the public were to show mercy to such politicians?

More important, was the fact that the key word “teaching [faculty]” was left out of the amendment a result of carelessness, or was it a conspiracy? Who should take responsibility for the omission? Some said that the missing key word was a matter of divine justice, while others said it was a result of carelessness or conspiracy, or that lawmakers pretended to decriminalize the illegal use of teachers’ research funds to hide the fact that it was an attempt to decriminalize the illegal use of politicians’ special allowances.

No matter what the truth is, the point is nobody is taking political responsibility. It seems that this serious flaw in the legislative process means nothing to them.

Absurdly, the Cabinet and the legislature only cared about decriminalizing certain misuses of public funds when pushing for the amendment, but they ignored reviewing and resolving problems in the accounting system.

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