The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday confirmed that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would preside over a KMT legislative caucus meeting where the party’s legislators will discuss how to push through an amendment to ease imports of US beef, amid criticism from opposition parties that Ma is violating the Constitution by intervening in legislative affairs.
The legislature will on June 12 vote on an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that would ease restrictions on the entry of US beef containing ractopamine.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday confirmed that Ma is scheduled to attend the KMT caucus meeting, slated for Friday, in his capacity as KMT chairman.
Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday said that Ma’s planned attendance at the meeting would constitute interference with legislative affairs. He accused Ma of jumping into the KMT caucus’ policymaking process, which he said suggested the government was in a mess.
Ker added that the Ma administration has failed to adequately coordinate the workings of the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and the KMT caucus.
Defending the legitimacy of Ma’s attendance at the meeting, Yin said: “The caucus meeting is a negotiation platform between the KMT and party legislators and it is appropriate for President Ma, as the party chairman, to communicate with party legislators on the amendment to reach a consensus.”
Yin said Ma was concerned about the amendment to the law because it is related to trade relations between Taiwan and the US and he would discuss the issue with party members at the meeting.
The KMT caucus meeting will be held at the party’s headquarters following a recent decision by Ma in which he instructed the Executive Yuan and the legislative branch to strengthen communications around the issue of a capital gains tax proposal.
Ma’s administration has been seeking to relax the ban on US beef imports containing the controversial leanness-enhancer ractopamine since he was re-elected in January this year.
In a recent interview with Reuters news agency, Ma repeated calls for the resumption of long-stalled negotiations with the US under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform and said that resolving the US beef import issue would help facilitate the bilateral trade talks.
While Ma has repeatedly stressed the urgency of resolving the contentious meat import issue, some KMT lawmakers have failed to follow party instructions.
The party’s caucus last month strayed from the official line when an amendment was voted down during a preliminary review because KMT Legislator Cheng Ju-fen (鄭汝芬) deliberately missed the vote.