Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Lawmakers crippling democracy

By James Wang 王景弘

Legislators receive NT$28,000 a day to cover their salaries and administrative expenses. Despite this, a group of pan-blue lawmakers have spent their time in the legislature clanging gongs, blowing whistles and occupying the podium. For creating such furor, former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) commended them for their “battle readiness.”

It is a wonder voters are able to control their temper over such a bizarre political party.

The members of the “old legislature” — which consisted of National Assembly representatives, legislators and Control Yuan members who were elected in China in 1947 and kept their seats until 1992 — lacked any vestiges of legitimacy. Some were too old to walk, so they were wheeled in in their wheelchairs to cast their votes and continue to bully the general public.

Things did not improve with democratization as the sole responsibility of the pan-blue leaders was to use violence to deal with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to ensure that pro-China and bills opposed to the US were passed. It was not a pretty sight.

After the pan-blue camp was relegated to the ranks of a minority for the first time last year, order went out the window and it has deteriorated into a mob whose only purpose is to disturb order.

Former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) is a rare exception who does not want to make a fool of himself, remaining aloof and keeping his distance from the hubbub. In doing so, he also focuses attention the injustice of the mess on the legislative floor.

Democracy is valuable because of the legitimacy of its processes and procedures, and focus on the majority. If the decision of the majority does not suit the views of the minority, they simply have to wait for the next election and hope that voters choose them instead.

The disturbances, boycotts, obstacles and breaches of legitimate order by pan-blue legislators are a shame to democracy.

In the US Congress, they would have been treated as breaches of discipline and punishments would have been issued.

Opposition to a proposed bill requires that voters be told why, and it must be legitimate. Pan-blue legislators oppose the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, and the reason they give is that they are opposed to “building local support using money and connections.”

This is an odd piece of political thinking: If the government did not have a plan for infrastructure development, it would be neglecting its duties. Infrastructure development is beneficial to the public, but pan-blue legislators are defining it as “building local support using money and connections.”

Whether it is the ruling or opposition party, creating benefits for the public should be every politician’s priority. If the government’s infrastructure program “builds local support,” that is good for voters.

By opposing it, pan-blue legislators are in effect exploiting voters’ interests and by claiming that the government is passing debt on to future generations they are only shooting themselves in the foot.

The infrastructure program would not benefit only pan-green supporters; these facilities would be shared among all Taiwanese.

The pan-blue camp has lost its hold on government and it can no longer be in charge of bringing benefits to the public.

The best way to minimize the damage would be to back the government in bringing benefits to the public, so the DPP government does not get all the credit.

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