Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 1 News List

KMT amendment may freeze rest of legislative session

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

An amendment related to the campaign for a referendum on the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) stolen assets stalled the Legislative Yuan yesterday and might paralyze the legislature until the session ends on Friday.

The legislative session was deadlocked 40 minutes after it began, with only a few articles of an amendment to the Tobacco Hazard Prevention Act (菸害防治法) which calls for stricter bans on smoking passing a second reading.

"As two articles of the amendment to the Tobacco Hazard Prevention Act and other bills are in need of negotiation, we now adjourn the meeting," Vice Speaker Chung Jung-chi (鍾榮吉) said at around 9:40am.

Legislative caucus whips then gathered for a multiparty negotiation session convened by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), but they soon broke up in discord.

Three of the bills on the negotiation meeting's agenda were an amendment to the Organic Law of the Central Election Commission (中央選舉委員會組織法), an amendment to the Public Officials Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) and an amendment to the Banking Act (銀行法).

The KMT's proposed amendment to the Organic Law of the Central Election Commission would mean that the commission's members, which vary from 11 to 19, would be selected according to the ratio of seats held by each political party in the legislature.

Currently the members are nominated by the premier and appointed by the president.

"We couldn't get to the Banking Law, as the KMT's negotiators left because of our opposition to the amendment to the Central Election Commission law. The negotiations lasted less than three minutes," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chung-mo (林重謨) said.

Despite a request from Wang that the meeting be reconvened at 3:30pm to discuss the budget bill, none of the KMT caucus whips showed up.

Expressing concern that the budget bill for fiscal 2007, which the legislature had been supposed to finalize last year, might still not be passed by the time the legislative session ends on Friday, Wang said that it would be "absolutely necessary" to have an extraordinary session if that happened.

"It's difficult to break the deadlock, as KMT headquarters has ordered its members that the amendment to the Central Election Commission law must be passed in this legislative session," Wang told reporters.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the KMT's proposed amendment was aimed at preventing incumbent Central Election Commission members from granting a possible request to hold a referendum on the KMT's assets.

"Given that the Central Election Commission is an independent government body, there is no way that we will agree to selecting Central Election Commission members in proportion to each party's number of legislative seats, because that would be in violation of the Constitution," Ker said.

KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) denied that the amendment had to do with a possible referendum on the KMT's assets.

The amendment was meant to rectify the partisan bias currently tainting the Central Election Commission, Hsu said.

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