While no one would deny the role of the legislative branch under the constitutional system, seldom do most people listen to what lawmakers actually say on the floor of the Legislative Yuan, apart from watching edited video clips on television.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chao-hao’s (劉櫂豪) questioning of Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) on Sept. 25 became a rare exception as the video recording of his 13-minute-long question-and-answer session went viral on the Internet, attracting more than 430,000 hits.
The phenomenon occurred at the peak of the fiercest political strife in recent memory, with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), Huang and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) at the center of the storm, which maybe sparked people’s unusual interest in what one lawmaker had to say.
However, it was Liu’s eloquence and pointed questioning, which often left Huang speechless, as well as his ability to explain the legal and political complexity of the controversy in a simple way that caught people’s attention. The judge-turned-lawmaker, who is an experienced politician, became an instant hit.
Meanwhile, several international media outlets have again brought up the legislature’s notorious reputation for brawls and endless boycotts when they reported the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) internal power struggle and the current tensions between the administrative and legislative branches, which escalated due to the prosecutors’ alleged wiretapping of the legislature’s switchboard.
More than half of the respondents in a recent survey conducted by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research said they do not oppose the use of police power to ensure the legislative proceedings run smoothly.
Liu’s questioning and the legislature’s shameful standing in the public eye appear to reflect how good and how bad the lawmaking body can be amid the public’s call for legislative reform in reaction to the political crisis, which began with an allegation over improper lobbying.
With the now famous Liu interpellation, lawmakers should be able to realize that they do not have to resort to extreme measures — such as humiliating government officials or physical confrontation — to get noticed. Other than Liu, DPP legislators Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) and Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) are known for their sharp questioning ability, but most other legislators have gotten little attention.
The opposition perhaps should also learn a lesson about how people view the legislature. Despite the opposition boycotts of the podium or pushing and shoving (which often have sensible justifications), the legislature has never been “at a standstill” as the ruling party describes it. Meetings of subcommittees proceeded as usual. Still people seemed to be exhausted by what they read in newspapers and see on television about this most important democratic institution.
The question worth asking is why the DPP, which could not have possibly been unaware of people’s disgust of boycotts and physical confrontations, still took those actions in the legislature.
At the very least, the tradition of partisanship is one of the main reasons why sensible discussions are absent in the legislature, where party position and policies are always the top priority.
If the DPP has a thing or two to learn about about how their efforts to protect the public interests end up unappreciated, the KMT — the perennial majority party — has much to learn about what is best for the nation.
The KMT headquarters and caucus always abuses the party’s legislative majority, leaving no room for consensus-building and negotiations, in particular on major controversial issues, such as the ban on drug residue tainted US beef, nuclear energy, pension reform and the cross-strait service trade agreement.
It takes two to tango, and it will take all the parties involved to initiate the first step toward a well-functioning legislature.
Taiwan’s status in the world community is experiencing something really different; it’s being treated like a normal country. And not just a “normal” country, more like a valuable, constructive, democratic and generous country. This is not simply an artifact of Taiwan’s successes in combatting the novel coronavirus. It is a new attitude, weighing Taiwan’s democracy against China’s lack of it. Before I continue, I should apologize to the readers of the Taipei Times. I have not visited Taipei since the opening of the American Institute in Taiwan’s new chancery building in Neihu last year, so I was unprepared for the photograph
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
At a June 12 news conference held by the Talent Circulation Alliance to announce the release of its white paper for this year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) emphasized that, in this era of globalization, Taiwan should focus on improving foreign language and digital abilities when cultivating talent, so that it stands out from global competitors. I suggest the government should consider building a professional translation industry. If the public believes that there is a relationship between learning English and national competitiveness, then the nation must consider the social cost of language education. This should be assessed to maximise educational effectiveness: Is
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a