Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) extended his hand to the leaders of opposition parties on his second day in office yesterday, saying he wished to meet them to facilitate a dialogue between the government and the opposition on major issues.
“Sincere communication is a very important step toward democracy. I hope that dialogue between the government and the opposition parties would ensue [after I visit opposition leaders],” Jiang said during a meeting with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), Cabinet Secretary-General Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁), Cabinet Vice Secretary-General Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) and Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) accompanied Jiang.
Jiang vowed that Cabinet officials would “employ themselves in communicating” with both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and opposition parties and he asked for Wang’s help in facilitating a dialogue between the government and the opposition.
“A variety of circumstances have hindered communication between the parties in the past,” he said. “I hope the [Lunar] New Year will bring a fresh start for parties to engage in communication because it plays an important role in a democracy.”
He listed a number of issues at the top of the Cabinet’s agenda in the next legislative session, which begins on Tuesday, including a recently proposed plan to reform the nation’s pension system, a budget request for an additional NT$40 billion (US$1.35 billion) to complete the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and drafting of bills to prevent media monopolization.
The Executive Yuan will soon present a list of 50 priority bills to the legislature to allow for ample time for deliberation before the session ends in the summer, he said.
Jiang said he wanted all lawmakers, regardless of party, to have a thorough understanding of the Executive Yuan’s bills. In the final stage of passage, either the vice premier or the Cabinet secretary-general will remain at the legislature all day to ensure there would be no flaws in the legislation, he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said there was no need for Jiang to meet with opposition leaders.
“Such a meeting would not be meaningful, especially if Jiang is not a premier who can make his own decisions, but has to do everything under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) instructions,” Su said.
It would be more important for Jiang to lay out his vision for the nation and the direction of his Cabinet and for him to listen to the public and meet the public’s needs, Su said.
In related news, former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said a national affairs conference should be higher on the priority list for the Ma administration and is still the best option to resolve uncertainties over various policies.
According to the Constitution, the premier and the Executive Yuan are responsible to the Legislative Yuan, not to the opposition, Tsai said.
If Jiang met with opposition leaders out of courtesy instead of having substantial discussions about public policies, such a meeting would be meaningless, she said.