Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Executive branch urges extra session for beef vote

EXTRA-TIME:At a meeting between President Ma, Premier Sean Chen and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, it was decided that the KMT caucus would propose an extra session

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters

Democratic Progressive Party legislators yesterday pull down signs they had put up during a week-long protest in the legislature against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The executive branch last night asked the legislature to hold a provisional session to vote on a bill that would allow beef imports containing residues of the livestock feed additive ractopamine after the legislative session ended at 6pm yesterday without voting on the beef issue.

The Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan issued the call following a three-hour meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and top officials on solutions to the stalled draft bill on beef -containing ractopamine residues.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) last night said the caucus would table a motion for an extra session next week to pass the amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法).

“The beef issue will be the only subject discussed at the provisional session. We hope that it can be held next week,” he said.

After the KMT caucus submits the proposal, Wang must call an informal meeting for lawmakers to decide whether to hold the extra session.

The conclusion reached at the meeting called by Ma last night departed from the KMT caucus’ earlier position, with KMT lawmakers supporting a proposal at a caucus meeting held on Thursday to ask the Executive Yuan to issue an executive order to relax the ban on beef containing ractopamine.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), said the caucus would do everything in its power to block the amendment.

“It is unavoidable that there will be a fight if the KMT tries to ram through the amendment,” Ker said.

In light of the failure of the legislature to pass the amendment yesterday, the last day of the legislative session, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) expressed the hope that “the Executive Yuan will finally be able to bring this to a speedy resolution.”

“We maintain that US beef is safe and remind Taiwanese consumers that millions of people in the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, and many other countries around the world have continued to enjoy US beef without a single report of ill effects linked to ractopmaine,” AIT spokesperson Sheila Paskman said.

The AIT was “disappointed that some in Taiwan chose to make the discussion about US beef a political issue and intentionally provide misleading and in many cases false information to political gains,” Paskman said.

Earlier yesterday Ma reiterated his expectation that the issue of US beef imports would be resolved as soon as possible when meeting with Harvard University professor Ezra Vogel at the Presidential Office. He said that lifting the ban on the import of US beef containing ractompaine residue would facilitate Taiwan’s trade relations with the US and other countries.

Ma said this was a “critical moment” for Taiwan to finally deal with the issue of US beef imports, so as to speed up trade negotiations with the US and other trade partners.

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