Sat, Jul 10, 2010 - Page 1 News List

DPP walks out of ECFA review

‘ONE-PARTY SHOW’DPP Secretary-General Lee Chun-yee said his party would continue to ‘monitor’ events from outside the legislature

By Flora Wang and Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers (front rows) chant slogans as they prepare to walk out of the legislature yesterday in protest against the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) handling of the review of a trade pact with China.

PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP

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.

DPP 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.

The 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.

Legislative 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.

On 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.

The 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.

Wang stood by his decision when asked for comment yesterday.

“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.”

DPP 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.

The 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.

President 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.

Chai said Ma’s comments showed the legislature has already lost its autonomy. He said the legislative process had been interrupted by Ma.

“The rest of the session will be the KMT’s one-party show,” Lee said.

The provisional legislative session is scheduled to run till Wednesday.

The DPP will continue to supervise relevant developments from outside the legislative system, he said, meaning through civic groups, public opinions and possibly demonstrations.

While 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).

Newly 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.

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