During election campaigns, many politicians behave like car salespeople when promoting their political platforms: Whatever you want, I have it on offer and it is the best there is. After being elected, they often have nothing of what people want and all their sweet promises turn out to be hot air as they fail to deliver on them one after another. After having been deceived both four and eight years ago, voters should have realized that they cannot take politicians at face value, but must closely monitor what they do and say.
The presidential election campaign has reached the “pie-in-the-sky” stage. Both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have placed legislative reform at the top of their agendas and offered a pretty blueprint of their proposed reforms. The public are dissatisfied with the workings of the legislature as many reform opportunities, legal bills and policies are sucked down and disappear in the bog of political infighting between the KMT and the opposition parties as soon as they reach the legislature. While the legislature should be the beginning of all reform, its rigidity and the inferior quality of its operations and legislation together with the mindset of lawmakers dead set on benefiting big business, while attending to their own or their party’s interests, all serve to hold back any attempt at reform, while the government continues to tread water amid its ineptitude, shortsightedness and wasteful policies. The consensus is that the legislative agenda is characterized by ineffectiveness, procrastination and political division.
The KMT holds total control over the government due to its legislative majority and its hold on the presidency, and should therefore shoulder most of the responsibility for the inefficiency of the government and the legislature. Even the KMT’s own lawmakers are criticizing the party over its inability to propose policies that win public support and to use its majority to push through legislation. To make things worse, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) launched an attack on Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), resulting in a serious division between the party and the legislature. It is obvious where to place the blame for the legislature’s inefficiency.
KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) wants the next legislature to bring about root-and-branch reform and has proposed that the Act Governing the Legislature’s Exercise of Power (立法院職權行使法) be amended during the current session to make the agenda more effective, negotiations more transparent and the legislative speaker more neutral. These are all good ideas, but the reality is that the reform proposal submitted by the DPP during the current legislative session has been rejected 900 times by the KMT in procedural committees and on the legislative floor. To hear the KMT talk about itself as a reformer after such actions rings false, to say the least.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has suggested that when there is a change of government, the KMT, which in the past has opposed reform, should step down to provide the legislature with a new lease on life. She has also suggested that the speaker be neutral and that the scale of the bureaucracy be increased and its expertise improved.
Anyone can chant a reform slogan, but voters must recognize the source of legislative irregularities and understand who is holding back reform if they are to avoid being deceived. First and foremost, voters must vote incompetent lawmakers out of office to bring new blood and improve legislative quality. That should be followed by demands that procedures and framework be made transparent, that a system of hearings be established and that the speakership is turned into a neutral position. Capable lawmakers are needed to create a capable legislature, quality legislation and high-standard legislative operations.
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