However, two decades later, nothing has been done. The bodies established by the unconstitutional passage of these three laws continue to exist, and the person who has just become secretary-general of the the National Security Council has been mouthing off in the US about how the protesters currently occupying the legislative chamber are guilty of “intolerable violence.”
That the same party in government now as was in power 20 years ago is still up to the same tricks is even more intolerable.
The ruling and opposition parties had come to a clear agreement to conduct a clause-by-clause review of the cross-strait service trade agreement, not to mention that such a review is required by Constitutional Interpretation 329 and Article 5, Paragraph 2 of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), given the nature of the agreement, it is essentially a quasi-treaty.
Yet the convener of the legislative session in question, KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), went aside and announced that he was bringing the session to an end, that the review had been concluded and that the agreement was being sent on to the plenary session.
All of this happened in the space of just three minutes. There is a six-minute window of opportunity to save a person’s life should they suffer a cardiac arrest. In half that time, the very survival of the nation was threatened.
As for the idea that the pact is an administrative order, that is simply ridiculous. Unless the government is going to announce that Taiwan is a province of China, and that Beijing has decreed that the agreement must be passed, how can it be regarded as an administrative order?
There are procedures in place in the legislature. Based on the democratic principles of majority rule and respect for the minority, these include substantial debate, equal weighting for all votes and transparency.
The Act Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法) clearly states that all judicial and budgetary cases should go through three readings and that all other laws should have two readings. In the second reading, the legislation is read out systematically, clause-by-clause and in sequence, with each clause scrutinized and discussed.
In this case, the government took it upon itself to sign the pact outside of the legislature, with no transparency, and even when it handed the agreement in its complete form to the legislature, Chang attempted to skip the review phase altogether, before it had been subjected to even the most cursory discussion.
There he was, hiding beside a toilet cubicle, announcing that the review had come to an end. How could this process be said to have been open or transparent?
Constitutional Interpretation 342 states: “Where there are palpable material defects which are against the fundamental rules of enactment of laws, the authority responsible for constitutional interpretation may still declare it void.”
If this is not a perfect example of where this interpretation should be applied, what is? Can a review really be completed in 30 seconds?