Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday blocked the opposition’s proposal to impeach President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — five days before the end of Ma’s first term. The KMT’s move drew criticism from opposition lawmakers, who argued that the vote was illegal and unconstitutional.
The legislature’s 19-member Procedure Committee voted the motion off the legislative agenda by a 9-0 vote.
All nine votes came from KMT lawmakers, after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers withdrew from the meeting. People First Party (PFP) Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) abstained from the vote.
Speaking at a post-meeting press conference, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) condemned the KMT lawmakers’ move, saying his caucus “was not surprised, but was disappointed” in the vote, which he described as “a moment that would be etched in history.”
Ker declined to disclose what the DPP caucus would do to “retaliate” in the plenary session on Friday.
DPP lawmakers struggled in the meeting to explain why the caucus submitted the proposal less than a week before Ma is scheduled to be inaugurated for his second term.
“The DPP was very much aware that the proposal could be blocked, but we wanted to leave a historical record and to let Ma know that an unpopular president should be recalled, regardless of how much time is left in his term,” DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said.
Wu reiterated the DPP had no intention to “incite social division.”
DPP Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said that according to Article 44-1 of the Act Governing Exercise of Rights of the Legislative Yuan (立法院職權行使法), which stipulates the procedure of the recall proposal, the Procedure Committee is not authorized to block the proposal, because the recall proposal is not an ordinary proposal.
“The proposal should be sent to the Legislative Yuan’s plenary session and be put to a vote,” Chao said.
TSU Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) cited Ma’s own remarks — made last week when KMT lawmakers blocked the Executive Yuan’s draft bill for a capital gains tax in the same committee — that “opinions may vary, but the text of the proposal should be discussed and it is imperative not to block the procedure,” and urged his KMT counterparts to “do as Ma said.”
However, KMT lawmakers said the proposal was “a mere disruptive attempt to create social instability and embarrass the president.”
KMT whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) blasted the opposition parties for “adopting an unnecessary tactic, which they knew would fail, with four working days left before Ma is sworn in on May 20.”
“This is absolute nonsense. This is monkey business,” Lin said.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) asked why the DPP had not submitted the proposal last week, when DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) served as convener of the Procedure Committee.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the opposition’s proposal was “an abuse of parliamentary resources and a waste of time.”
While abstaining from the vote, Lee, who doubles as PFP whip, said his caucus would have supported the recall proposal if the proposal was made for Ma’s second term.
The Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法) stipulates that a proposal of recall should be proposed by no less than one-quarter of the total members of the legislature and agreed by no less than two-thirds, and that a president or vice president who has not been in the position for one year may not be recalled.