Sun, Jan 24, 2010 - Page 1 News List

KMT’s King supports legislative guards

PROTECTION FROM THEMSELVESThe KMT secretary-general said a proposal to have special guards inside the legislature had come from a member of the party’s think tank

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) yesterday defended the party’s proposal to introduce special guards in the legislature to maintain order, saying the system would prevent fistfights and other clashes among legislators from damaging the nation’s reputation.

“There are too many violent clashes in the legislature, which damages the nation’s reputation abroad ... We looked into effective measures used in the US and Europe, and the proposal is still under discussion,” King said yesterday in Chiayi County.

King said the proposal was presented last week by KMT think tank member Stephen Chen (陳錫藩), a former representative to the US. In the US, a Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeepers maintain order in the Senate.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman, supports the idea of having special guards replace the legislature’s use of the police to intervene when violent clashes occur, and asked the think tank and the party to study the possibility of establishing such a mechanism in the legislature, King said.

“In a democratic society, the minority should abide by the majority. Legislators from the opposition parties should not occupy the podium even if negotiations break down,” he said.

King was referring to repeated violent clashes in the legislature — the most recent on Monday — when the KMT legislative caucus pushed through a disputed amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) during an extra legislative session amid fistfights, yelling, shouting and pushing.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators occupied the podium in an attempt to block Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from entering the building, while the KMT mobilized its legislators to escort Wang to the speaker’s podium.

King condemned the opposition for using violence on the legislative floor, and said the KMT’s latest TV commercial, which featured the fistfights and violent clashes, highlighted the opposition party’s “irrationality” and use of violence.

King said the KMT was still studying the proposal and would address the legislature on the issue.

DPP caucus whip Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said yesterday that King’s proposal suggested he didn’t trust Wang and said that King could want to weaken Wang’s authority.

DPP Policy Committee chief executive Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the idea of setting up a law enforcement system “would belittle the legislature’s autonomy.”

Wang and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) were non-committal about the idea yesterday.

Wang told reporters that discussing special guards without first gaining a consensus on whether to entitle the speaker to use police power to maintain order within the legislature was like “putting the cart before the horse.”

Wang said that any special guard would have to take orders from the speaker or follow resolutions passed by the legislature rather than acting upon his own discretion.

The legislature is an autonomous institution where self-discipline is exercised, Wang said, adding: “Once the speaker is given the right to call upon the police to maintain order on the floor, there will be people available to enforce the speakers’ orders.”

Wang has said several times before that coercive power would not end legislative boycotts.

“The situation we have is different from other countries. [When scuffles break out,] there are not just two or three people involved, but dozens,” Wang said.

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