Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) made a special New Year's wish that, to make up for the administration's lack of progress, he could kick-start the legislature's special task force on cross-strait relations and lead its members to visit China.
Wang yesterday spoke of his wish when he invited the media for a New Year-countdown gathering.
He said that any cross-strait negotiations had to be authorized by the president, otherwise it would not be meaningful or representative.
"But the Legislative Yuan can still try to realize a few concrete ideas about the people's welfare by exchanging and negotiating with the other side," Wang said.
"There is space for the task force as long as it tries to promote cross-strait peace and stability," he said.
Wang used the negotiations for direct charter flights between the two sides during the Lunar New Year as an example, saying that the task force could coordinate between the two sides.
The notion about the task force could be considered as Wang's alternative suggestion to the Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Since the Legislative Yuan is also reviewing the People First Party's draft cross-strait peace advancement law, Wang said that if the draft could pass and the cross-strait peace committee could be established, the Legislative Yuan would have a greater legal capacity to promote cross-strait exchanges.
"Since the government has not been able to propound effective ways to resolve the cross-strait stand-off and the public as well as businesspeople have been very worried about the situation, I hope the legislature's special task force can be initiated this year to break the ice," Wang said.
"It is a good time for this, because there are cross-strait issues that cannot be deterred any longer, yet the government is unable to deal with the issue," he said.
The Legislative Yuan passed a resolution in 2000 to establish the task force, convened by the Legislative Speaker, and 21 members were to be selected in proportion to the caucus. Yet since the legislature has been reelected, it would need to pass another resolution if the task force is to be established.
Wang also said in the past that he was willing to visit China under the prerequisite of national need, public consensus, legislative resolution and equality.
While most caucuses responded positively to Wang's notion, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus opposed the notion and said such a task force should be appointed by the president and formed by the government.
In response to Wang, the Mainland Affairs Council, the nation's top cross-strait policymaking body, yesterday said that for the legislature to establish the task force would require a high level of consensus between the currently polarized political camps.
"In order for the special task force to be realized, the legislature would need to pass a resolution to that effect and the president would have to authorize it -- overall, a high level of domestic consensus is necessary," Council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said.
He said that improving cross-strait relations was a challenge that anyone was welcome to take up, but stressed that certain aspects of cross-strait efforts involved the execution of legal measures.
He said that such aspects were best undertaken by the executive branch of the government, rather than the legislature.