As citizens attempt to examine the performance of legislators over the past year, there will be quite a few fails and several benchmarks left unmet.
There were a few positive signs during the first half of the year, but the political chaos during the “September strife,” which developed into a battle royal involving the Cabinet, the legislature and the Judicial Yuan and resulted in confusion over why Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) could refuse to attend a question-and-answer session at the legislature.
If that was not an example of outright contempt for the legislature, then what is?
In Taiwan’s constitutional system, the role of the legislature has been diminished, and this year, the role of the legislative speaker, which should be considered a dignified position, was belittled, as Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) was almost kicked out.
Perhaps in an attempt to make the tension between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Wang seem more dignified, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) proposed a so-called “legislative reform plan.”
The plan included establishing a way to issue punishments and demand compensation for destroying public property, raising the required threshold to establish a party caucus, amending the security guard system, changing the two caucus convener system into one convener per caucus and setting up a seniority system for lawmakers.
These proposals are ostensibly intended to increase legislative efficiency, but they actually serve to expose the KMT’s attempt to legitimize its coercive activities to monopolize the legislative process by eliminating space for the opposition.
If the introduction of this sort of party-state hegemony could be called “reform,” we would have to rewrite every book on democratic theory.
The democratization of Taiwan began with a complete re-election of the so-called “10,000-year legislature,” which had been in office since 1947.
However, since the lifting of martial law, the pan-blue camp has maintained a legislative majority.
Why do people still feel that the legislature is not representative of public opinion?
The main reason is that legislative processes have never been fully transparent and there are shameful events hidden in dark corners in the legislature’s history.
For example, the legislature’s Procedure Committee has been turned into a committee for blocking legislation, party caucus negotiations have become backroom dealings and the budget review is simply a show put on that allows the government to waste public funds.
The result is that the legislature has been reduced to a rubber stamp for the Cabinet.
Credibility has hit rock bottom, as has the legislators’ prestige.
Why has it come to this?
It is all due to the selfish interests of a single political party.
By making this haphazard “reform” proposal, the KMT caucus will only further alienate the public.
Not even KMT legislators should be able to support this fake “reform,” but their true motivation is to gain complete control.
If this proposal makes it through the legislature, because that is what Ma wants, the opposition parties may lose their legislative positions and be forced to return to the streets.
Is this aligned with the nation’s interests?
Ku Chung-hwa is a standing board member of Citizen’s Congress Watch.
Translated by Perry Svensson