Fri, Jun 15, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Executive order on beef issue proposed

STALEMATE:As the DPP’s boycott of the legislature drags on, KMT lawmakers appear divided by efforts to ease a ban on beef imports that contain ractopamine

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

Members of the governing and opposition parties yesterday face off in the legislature, which remains in gridlock over contentious government policies.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Amid the opposition’s filibuster of a vote on a bill that would allow imports of US beef containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday demanded that the executive branch go ahead and ease the import ban by executive order.

If the opposition’s boycott of legislative proceedings continues today — the final day of the current legislative session — the Executive Yuan should lift the import ban via an executive order, KMT caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) told a press conference yesterday morning.

However, two other KMT caucus whips, Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) and Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌), later said the idea had been proposed by KMT Legislator Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛), adding that it was Chiang’s “personal view.”

Hsu said the KMT caucus’ position on the beef issue “remained unchanged” — that a vote on an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) has to be held in this session to conditionally lift the ban.

However, KMT Legislator Chiang Hui-chen (江惠貞) was one of the KMT lawmakers who are in favor of Chiang Nai-shin’s idea.

“It is fine that the executive branch respect lawmakers and values our views, but the executive branch is not supposed to let the legislative branch make each and every policy decision,” Chiang Hui-chen said.

The split in opinion on the use of an executive order was the latest division among KMT lawmakers over the beef issue after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) proposed lifting the ban, which he said would facilitate a resumption of talks with the US under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

Despite repeated calls by Ma, as KMT chairman, for party lawmakers to toe the line, some KMT lawmakers are hesitant to endorse the policy because of public opposition to easing the ban and the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) threats to initiate recall campaigns against KMT lawmakers who vote for the amendment.

“If the [executive branch] wants our cooperation in revising the Act Governing Food Sanitation, it must present adequate reasons why we have to lift the ban and provide evidence of the safety of beef containing ractopamine residue,” said KMT Legislator Cheng Ju-fen (鄭汝芬), who opposes the use of ractopamine as a feed additive.

Given that the executive branch is entitled by Article 11 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation to determine safe levels of drug residues, it is within the scope of its authority to revise the zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine, she said.

The division within the KMT over the beef issue has limited the party’s ability to ram the amendment through the legislature, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said.

“It was a mistake for the government to try to revise the Act Governing Food Sanitation to lift the ban. Not only because it was redundant, but it also brought lawmakers under pressure from their constituents,” KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said.

Tsai said Ma “might as well have announced he was lifting the ban” earlier this year based on the votes he earned in his re-election.

“What’s the point of him [Ma] dragging KMT lawmakers down? He should face up to the issue himself,” Tsai said.

However, Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) said the government still wanted the legislature to pass the amendment this session.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) did not offer any suggestions yesterday on resolving the gridlock except to say that he did not want to see the situation evolve into physical conflicts among lawmakers

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