Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Wang says no to strong-arm tactics in the legislature

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher, left, DPP caucus whip Chai Trong-rong, center, and DPP Legislator Chen Ying, protest the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) proposed amendment to the Local Government Act during a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday expressed reservations over a suggestion by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that he exercise his power to have police remove lawmakers who are blocking a legislative review if a provisional session is convened to deal with a disputed bill.

Wang told reporters that there was no law that empowers him to call in the police to maintain order during a plenary session.

He added that even if the speaker possessed this authority, he would never exercise it to avoid fueling controversy and harming the legislature’s image, Wang said.

Wang made the comment after KMT legislators Alex Fai (費鴻泰) and Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) called on him to have police at the legislature take away lawmakers blocking plenary sessions.

“[Speakers] all over the world enjoy such power. We should establish such a system instead of allowing legislators to get into fist fights with each other,” Ting said.

Whether the speaker should enjoy such power has been a recurring subject of debate over the past few years.

The KMT has been pushing the mechanism in a bid to have Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators removed when the DPP paralyzes a plenary session to stall the KMT’s proposals.

Fai and Ting made the suggestion after DPP legislators threatened to boycott the review of the KMT’s proposed amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) if the legislature holds an extraordinary session to push through the bill.

The DPP caucus has accused the KMT caucus of trying to use the proposal to buy support for the KMT’s candidates in the year-end special municipality mayoral elections.

The amendment would reorganize local governments ahead of December’s elections for the heads of five newly created special municipalities.

At the crux of the dispute is the KMT’s proposal for township chiefs and councilors, who are set to lose their posts by the end of the year when townships are converted into districts under the special municipalities.

Under the KMT proposal, the township chiefs would be appointed as directors of districts under the special municipalities, while the township councilors would be advisers to the directors, with a monthly salary of about NT$45,000.

Despite the DPP’s criticism, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman, urged the KMT caucus to pursue an extra legislative session to pass the proposal.

However, Ma appeared to be at odds with Wang as the latter on Wednesday downplayed the urgency to call a provisional legislative meeting.

Wang said yesterday morning that Ma did not inform him prior to telling the KMT legislative caucus to push for an extra session.

However, “President Ma called me earlier this morning saying he felt sorry for not informing me [of his decision] first,” Wang said.

Wang said since the government is under the rule of the KMT and the legislature is also dominated by the KMT, it is “necessary” for the party to keep the speaker informed if the party were pursuing an extra session.

Wang said he had decided to resolve the issue with different caucuses on Monday “no matter how difficult it may be.”

At a separate setting yesterday, the DPP said the KMT’s proposed amendment to the Local Government Act violates the Constitution and was anti-democratic.

The party said the proposal was proof that the KMT was using the tactic to ensure its victory in the 2012 presidential election.

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