Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) yesterday triggered fresh controversy by passing a KMT proposal at a legislative committee meeting he was chairing to probe the signing of the cross-strait service trade agreement and abruptly calling the session to an end while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) was still speaking at the podium.
Amid the ongoing disputes over the trade pact and the government’s handling of it, a commission was created under the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee to investigate the criticisms and concerns voiced about the cross-strait negotiations that led to the deal’s signing.
Since the majority of government agencies have yet to submit the documents for the probe requested by the commission, the committee last week decided to extend the submission deadline from May 31 to Aug. 31, when it will be DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai’s (陳其邁) turn to serve as committee chair.
However, KMT legislators on the committee yesterday tabled a proposal to change the deadline back to its original date, triggering protests from their DPP counterparts, who took turns speaking at the podium to explain why they are opposed to moving the deadline back.
As Tuan was speaking, Chang suddenly asked the committee to vote on the KMT motion and quickly declared that it had passed, so the deadline was restored to May 31.
“Do you know the price you have to pay to run a tank through the committee meeting?” Tuan said in reaction to Chang’s move.
“This is too much, how could you hold a vote and declare a motion passed while a legislator is still talking on the podium?” DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said.
Ignoring the protests, Chang called the meeting to an end and promptly left the room.
“Chang has planted a bomb in the Internal Administration Committee,” Tuan said. “We will see what happens on Wednesday [during the next meeting].”
After the meeting, DPP lawmakers condemned what they called the KMT’s “rude” behavior at a press conference.
“It’s clear that by changing the document request deadline from Aug. 31 — the date agreed upon at last week’s committee meeting — to May 31, the KMT is trying to prevent the public from knowing the truth behind the [cross-strait service trade pact] negotiations,” Chen said.
If the deadline is at the end of the month, there will not be enough time to request and collect the required documents, he added.
Chen said he would convene another committee meeting next week to again extend the document request deadline.
There is only one reason the KMT wants to move the deadline forward: To pass the supervision statute and the service trade pact in the current legislative session or an in extra session, if there is one, Lee added.
“I’d like to remind KMT legislators that the ‘black-box procedure’ [critics’ term for the bilateral trade negotiations] is what triggered the Sunflower movement. They should not have produced another black box,” Lee said.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang