Sat, Feb 08, 2014 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Contradictions rush into New Year

There is a long-standing belief in traditional Asian agricultural societies that things from one lunar year cannot be left undone into the next lunar year.

Despite Taiwan’s modernization, which has seen people become more connected with each other on many levels, many still deeply believe that before the new year comes, all bad things need to be dealt with, or bad luck will follow for the entire year. This is a cultural characteristic that has entered the subconscious of the Taiwanese and affects their behavior. It demonstrates how people can feel that there are many important things that can turn into nightmares if not dealt with in a timely fashion. This is why there is a rush of activity before the end of each lunar year. Within that rush, quite a few issues offer insight into the truth about Taiwanese politics and society.

Recently, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) trotted around the globe like mad. While stopping in as many countries as possible, he held press conferences at which he for the first time stated his position on the long-debated legislative oversight of cross-strait negotiations, saying that he based his view on the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution.

Ma says that the negotiation of cross-strait agreements is the prerogative of the executive arm of government and that he rejects any role for the legislature, whose oversight is limited to passing or rejecting a final agreement.

Given this, the legislative review process of the cross-strait service trade agreement should be respected and not interfered with. However, Ma oversteps the boundaries to keep interfering with the process, saying that because the legislature has held 20 public hearings on the agreement, it has delayed the review and caused some misunderstandings over cross-strait relations.

Why all these contradictions between how things should be and how they really are? The head of state is neither responsible for interpreting the Constitution nor arbitrating on it, nor does the president lead the legislature.

According to the Constitution, the legislature is the branch of government charged with representing the public in counterbalancing and improving its oversight of the government’s power.

Instead of attempting to cover things up, Ma clearly stated that he would not offer an opinion on this issue. He is clearly issuing orders to all Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators in his role as party chairman, but why is he in such a hurry?

The opposition caucuses jointly proposed a tax-evasion clause in the legislature in response to the recent release of information by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involving more than 16,000 cases of Taiwanese companies evading taxes through the use of offshore companies.

As always, the KMT caucus immediately rebutted these accusations, citing three reasons. The first reason was that there was no assessment report; the second, that no public hearing had been held and that Taiwanese businesspeople had many opinions on the matter, while the third was that since a cross-strait tax agreement has yet to be reached, a tax-evasion clause would be careless and hasty.

In comparing the legislative process for the establishment of a tax-evasion clause with how the government signed the cross-strait service trade agreement without asking the public, yet another contradiction is evident. These two issues also differ when it comes to those who have vested interests in each matter. In one case, it is small and medium-sized enterprises, while in another, it is companies that are investing in China.

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