Thu, Oct 29, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Lawmakers turn up heat on US beef

By Ko Shuling, Jenny W. Hsu, Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators hold up signs at the KMT caucus office in Taipei yesterday in protest against the importation of ground beef and other cow parts from the US and demanding the rigorous inspection of other US beef products.

PHOTO: CNA

The legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee ground to a halt yesterday as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers insisted National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) deliver a report on the decision-making process behind a change on US beef imports and vowed to pursue a better deal.

The committee’s morning session got off to a rough start as the DPP asked that the agenda be changed from reviewing the Presidential Office and NSC’s budget requests to having Su report on the policy shift. DPP lawmakers said that the beef policy was more urgent than the budgets because the policy would be implemented next month but the budgets were for next year.

The DPP, however, did not have enough members to file such a motion.

The afternoon session was not much better. Cashing in on their numerical leverage, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers voted in favor of a proposal to prolong the meeting to midnight if necessary.

The session ended at 5:30pm after Su finally made it to the podium and said, “Please refer the council’s budget request to the written report. That’s all.”

During the morning session lawmakers were allowed to speak for three minutes each.

DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) demanded Su step down, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) apologize and the government begin new negotiations with Washington. He promised to boycott the Presidential Office and NSC budgets if his demands were not met.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) criticized the protocol Taipei signed with Washington, saying it amounted to a humiliating surrender of the country’s sovereignty.

“Unless Su delivers a satisfactory report to the committee, we refuse to review their budget plans,” he said.

Describing Su as an “enemy of the state” and a “sinner of Asia,” DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) said it was amazing how the KMT administration ignored a legislative resolution demanding the executive branch obtain legislative consent before lifting the ban on US beef.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), in a play on words, said in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) that Su made Taiwan “Su Su Ki” (輸輸去) or “lose everything” at the negotiating table and that the deal had cost Taiwan so much that it would have to “pull its pants down.”

DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said she would like to know exactly what the government offered to seal the deal, saying that Ma and Su were the masterminds of the policy and that the Department of Health was just a scapegoat.

DPP legislators William Lai (賴清德) and Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) both asked Su to tell the public once and for all whether he has a valid green card or US citizenship and if he has made a real effort to protect the health of the Taiwanese.

DPP Legislator Yu Tian (余天) criticized Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) for being irresponsible for saying that it was up to the public to decide whether to eat US beef.

Yu asked if Wu would also lift the ban on marijuana and tell the public it was their decision whether to use it.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) criticized the administration for being incompetent in domestic affairs, obedient to China and weak in foreign affairs.

KMT lawmakers, however, criticized the former DPP administration for violating a 2006 legislative resolution to allow the import of US beef, although they said the resolution was “not legally binding.”

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