The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday withdrew from the provisional legislative session called to review the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing after the legislature ruled to allow the agreement to skip a committee review. \nDPP legislators chanted “democracy has already died, the public needs to save Taiwan” as they walked off the legislative floor after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers voted down their own caucus’ proposal to reconsider Thursday’s decision. \nThe KMT caucus’ move yesterday was part of its strategy to push the ECFA through the one-month negotiation period, and thereby prevent the DPP caucus, which alleged Thursday’s procedure was flawed, from filing a reconsideration proposal of Thursday’s ruling later. If the DPP caucus filed a reconsideration proposal, it would have changed the end date of the one-month period. \nLegislative procedures allow any bill or proposal referred to cross-party negotiation to be put on hold for up to one month. As the result of the KMT caucus' move yesterday, it means the earliest the legislature could pass the ECFA is Aug. 8, when the one-month period ends. \nOn Thursday, despite lawmakers throwing objects, splashing water, pushing and shoving, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) announced he would adopt the KMT caucus’ motion to allow the ECFA and a cross-strait copyright protection agreement to skip the preliminary review. \nThe DPP caucus later challenged Wang’s announcement, with DPP Secretary-General Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) saying the speaker had failed to call for a vote even though the DPP caucus voiced opposition to the KMT caucus’ motion. \nWang stood by his decision when asked for comment yesterday. \n“As the speaker standing on the podium, I did not hear anyone express his or her opposition [to the motion]. [In fact], I could not hear anything at all because of the chaos in front of me,” Wang said. “If I had heard something, I would have dealt with [the opposition] in accordance with legislative procedures.” \nDPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) said that the DPP caucus’ boycott occured because the two sides could not reach common ground on the review of the ECFA. \nThe DPP caucus wants a clause-by-clause review of the agreement with votes on every single article while the KMT caucus wants a single vote for the entire ECFA package. \nPresident Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said earlier in the week that an individual review was unnecessary and would compromise Taiwan’s ability to negotiate free-trade agreements with other countries. \nChai said Ma’s comments showed the legislature has already lost its autonomy. He said the legislative process had been interrupted by Ma. \n“The rest of the session will be the KMT’s one-party show,” Lee said. \nThe provisional legislative session is scheduled to run till Wednesday. \nThe DPP will continue to supervise relevant developments from outside the legislative system, he said, meaning through civic groups, public opinions and possibly demonstrations. \nWhile KMT caucus secretary--general Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) accused the DPP of “lying” about its promise to be the gatekeeper for the public during the ECFA review, the DPP caucus said its decision to boycott was done with the full support of DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). \nNewly elected DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that if the trade pact was reviewed as a package, it would set a -dangerous precedent for future cross-strait agreements because lawmakers would lose their authority to alter the content of such deals. \nTsai told reporters she was concerned that the review would not address many of the public concerns that have been raised over the agreement. \n“The attitude by the KMT doesn’t leave any room for the concerns of either the opposition party or members of the public worried about the ECFA,” she said. \nThursday’s brawl was regrettable, she said, but it occurred because DPP lawmakers were not able to “reasonablely discuss and review” the trade agreement because of the government’s interference. \nThe DPP caucus is expected to spend their time away from the provisional session in town hall meetings nationwide. \nThe meetings are expected to focus on the ECFA’s potential impact on Taiwan. \nDPP lawmakers say the trade pact will impact the unemployment rate and damage fragile industries through an influx of cheaper Chinese goods. The KMT government says that claim has been blown out of proportion. \nAt a separate setting yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called for a “gentleman movement” in the legislature. \nHe expressed regret over Thursday’s clash, and urged legislators to exercise self-restraint on the legislative floor. \n“Maybe we should promote the gentleman movement in the legislature, and help our legislators act more maturely, so that the legislative matters will run more smoothly,” Ma said. \nPresidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) condemned the DPP for using violence in the legislative session, and urged Tsai to review the behavior of her party’s lawmakers. \n“Tsai has repeatedly pledged to rationally oversee the government’s performance, and it is time to stop using violence. We hope Tsai will take the necessary actions against party members who cause violence,” he said. \nADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH
PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP
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