Tue, Jul 18, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: A richness of embarrassments

The nation’s lawmakers never cease to amaze the public with their physical antics in the legislature.

From the usual shoving, pulling, hair-pulling and shouting matches that the public has grown accustomed to, or the childish battles of the past that involved tossing lunchboxes, cups of water or shredding, last week lawmakers upgraded their props, their acting ability and their physicality to take their playground theatrics to an absurd new level.

The scenes on Thursday and Friday left many people shaking their heads; with all the physical feats displayed, netizens — with a few creative cuts and professional-level touch-ups of news footage — could easily create a short clip of lawmakers appearing to promote the Taipei Universiade through feats of physical derring-do.

In the throwing contest, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers hurled water balloons and fake banknotes at their “opponents”; in weightlifting, chairs were tossed about; while in the judo event, KMT Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) grappled with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), wrestling one-on-one and twisting each other’s elbows.

There was even a cheerleading squad, which blew air horns and whistles, and brandished placards.

Amid the chaos, KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華), formerly head of the Nantou Taekwondo Committee, allegedly slapped DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩). Pan-blue camp supporters later dubbed Hsu “Wonder Woman,” while KMT Acting Chairman Lin Cheng-tse (林政則) said the 34 KMT lawmakers were “Robin Hoods” fighting for justice for the public.

The public has always been eager to see the nation gain more international recognition, only to be repeatedly embarrassed by the notoriety the Legislative Yuan has earned in the world’s media. The negative light brought by repeated video clips of the brawls and fisticuffs being aired on CNN and other networks around the world has again tarnished Taiwan’s reputation.

The Legislative Yuan is where legislators are supposed to deliberate on bills, scrutinize budgets and monitor the work of the administrative branch.

The very reason for the legislature’s special provisional sessions this month and last is so the representatives of the public can review the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, which the DPP government claims could increase GDP by 0.1 percent, with NT$470.5 billion (US$15.47 billion) in real GDP contributions and NT$506.5 billion in nominal GDP contributions over the program’s first four years.

Lawmakers certainly have much to do to live up to the public’s expectations. How are the program’s budgets being proposed? Is the suggested sum for each proposal reasonable?

KMT lawmakers could very well make use of their legislative power to question the premier and to highlight what they consider controversial appropriations. This would allow them to demonstrate to voters how well they are doing their job, and show that despite being in the minority in the legislature, they can behave as a responsible opposition party, one that is capable of providing constructive criticism as it represents the concerns of its constituents.

Regrettably, KMT lawmakers have resorted to childish obstruction and circus-like brawls to disrupt the legislative process and show their unhappiness with the DPP, while failing in their duty to allow the premier to deliver his report on the proposed infrastructure program and then question him about it.

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