Sat, Apr 30, 2016 - Page 1 News List

KMT occupies podium, demands talks

STICKABILITY MOCKED:DPP lawmakers said that the new opposition should learn from their efforts to tie up the podium and stay for three days, not just an hour

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying, front, second left, tears a placard as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators occupy the podium of Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan, second row, fourth left, during a floor vote in the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday occupied the legislative speaker’s podium for the first time in history, as the opposition protested the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus’ putting a motion to vote without conducting cross-caucus negotiations.

Lawmakers argued with each other, with the legislature descending into disorder over a motion to require the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Education to retract social studies and Chinese-language high-school curriculum guidelines that were controversially announced in February 2014.

The motion — launched by DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) — asked the legislature to decide whether to retract the guidelines promulgated by the ministry in 2014, which it said came about “through a process that breached the principles of transparency, professionalism and bottom-up social participation, and with adjusted content that defied facts and whitewashed the era of authoritarian rule.”

The motion was removed from the agenda last month, pending a cross-caucus negotiation and as the one-month negotiation period ended yesterday, the motion was put to a floor discussion to be followed by a vote.

KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said in the discussion that cross-caucus negotiations were never convened and called for an amendment to the discussion agenda and cross-caucus talks over the motion.

KMT Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said the motion, if passed, “has the risk of allowing the legislative branch to intervene in executive authority.”

Cheng said that the motion is “the response made by the new legislature to new public opinion and a response to students’ rights advocate Dai Lin (林冠華),” who was a member of the Northern Taiwan Anti-Curriculum Changes Alliance before he committed suicide in July last year as students staged a weeks-long sit-in in front of the ministry building in Taipei to protest guideline changes.

“We have the right to reject brainwashing curriculum guidelines made in a ‘black box.’ What democratic society could approve of curriculum guidelines drawn up by ‘ooo’ and ‘xxx’?” asked Cheng, an apparent reference to the non-release of the names of those who participated in writing the guidelines.

KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) said a cross-caucus resolution reached in the previous legislature had already called for a re-examination of the guideline-adjustment procedure and permitted schools to freely choose which guidelines they would use.

“If the new public opinion wants to overthrow the negotiated resolution, cross-caucus talks must be convened,” Lin Te-fu said.

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) put the motion to a floor vote after the discussion ended, prompting KMT lawmakers to walk to the front of the chamber, with Lin Te-fu thumping a lectern and shouting for “procedural justice.”

The motion passed amid the noise, with some of the KMT lawmakers failing to vote as they were busy protesting.

After the vote, Su moved on to process the next bill, while the KMT lawmakers chanted, calling for a cross-caucus negotiation and shouting: “Anti-black-box” and “Impartiality of the legislative speaker.”

With no halt to proceedings as they protested, the KMT lawmakers walked to the speaker’s seat and snatched away the microphone, holding a placard that read: “The DPP restricts freedom of speech.”

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