The gridlock in the legislature continued yesterday as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the opposition failed to reach consensus on ongoing disputes and whether to have an early recess.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which launched a 120-hour protest on Monday to demand that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration reverse its unpopular policies, proposed an early recess yesterday morning.
“It is time to set aside disputes and focus on disaster relief after overnight torrential rains caused heavy floods across the nation. All the disputes can be discussed in the extra session,” DPP caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.
“Unfortunately, all the KMT thinks about is politics, not people’s lives,” he said.
At least five deaths had been reported since Monday night because of the torrential rain.
The DPP had planned to paralyze the legislature before the current legislative session ends on Friday, a tactic it hoped would force the Ma administration to withdraw its electricity rate hike policy and retain the ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine.
The protest, with DPP legislators occupying the legislative podium to prevent the plenary session from taking place, was backed by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and the People First Party (PFP).
During negotiations at 9am, KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) agreed to the opposition’s proposal to end the current session and leave the controversial issues to be dealt with at an extra session. However, Lin failed to gain the endorsement of fellow KMT lawmakers.
According to KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), the KMT called a caucus meeting to decide whether to accept the opposition’s proposal, and “all party members rejected the idea.”
“Without objection, we all oppose ending the session today [Tuesday]. We insist on continuing the session until Friday,” Wu said.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called another two rounds of cross-party negotiations at 11am and 3pm, but the KMT stuck to its position.
“It’s the DPP that got us lawmakers trapped in this situation,” Wu said, referring to the DPP-led 120-hour boycott, which he said prevented some lawmakers from returning to their constituencies to help flood victims.
Wu said the KMT insisted on holding a vote to pass the amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to resolve the US beef issue before the session enters a recess.
KMT lawmakers whose constituents were affected by the flood were allowed to leave the legislature to help with disaster-relief efforts in their constituencies, Wu said.
“Even so, we will make sure that the KMT lawmakers remaining in the legislature outnumber the opposition to ensure that we win the vote on US beef,” he said.
In the end, the KMT rejected the idea of an early recess, but said it was willing to suspend the meeting for one day under the condition that everyone leaves the assembly room — meaning the DPP would have to withdraw its occupation of the podium.
The parties are expected to start negotiations again at 9am today to seek a solution to end the gridlock.
The DPP, the TSU and the PFP called a press conference yesterday evening and accused the KMT and Ma of “disregarding” natural disasters and people’s suffering.
DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the KMT was playing a two-handed strategy — calling for disaster relief on one hand, while insisting that the legislative session should not end before Friday.