The Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program was yesterday passed by the legislature’s Economics Committee amid physical altercations between lawmakers.
The bill — a NT$880 billion (US$29.19 billion) budget to support infrastructure projects across the nation — gained headway without any substantive review of its content during the meeting.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers attempted to thwart the review with a filibuster, surrounding the rostrum and delivering 10-minute speeches one by one.
While KMT lawmakers spoke, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who presided over the meeting, asked a legislative official to recite the bill article-by-article and pushed it through.
The draft is to be sent to the legislature’s general assembly meeting for second and third readings without further negotiation.
Chiu’s move riled opposition lawmakers.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
KMT Legislator Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) flipped over a table, dragged it on the floor and attempted to strike the rostrum, while KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) splashed coffee and water in a show of protest
“The KMT will not recognize the validity of the meeting as the DPP violated the legislative procedure and ignored KMT opposition,” Sufin said.
KMT Legislator Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) said given that the bill involves NT$880 billion over the next eight years and public hearings were just held, there is no hurry to pass the bill without a detailed examination.
New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said the KMT put on a drama, which help the budget to pass the committee review.
“I could not help but wonder if the KMT was intentionally ‘passing’ the ball to the DPP,” Huang said at a news conference, calling on the DPP to return the bill for committee review, as it failed to include details regarding accountability and feasibility evaluations.
“The only result of their tantrum has been to make government officials happy because they would not be forced to face how rotten their draft bill is in committee,” he said, questioning whether government officials would be obliged to be present at general assembly deliberations.
Several activists led by National Chengchi University land economics professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) held a sit-in in front of DPP headquarters, holding signs calling the party an “evolved dictatorship.”
A handful of activists associated with the Economic Democracy Union and Citizens of the Earth Foundation also protested outside the Legislative Yuan prior to the beginning of review, reiterating concerns that the draft legislation lacked strong review mechanisms and included an overly vague definition of “forward looking.”
The Executive Yuan on April 4 approved the development program as part of an effort to boost the economy over the next eight years.
The budget is to be spent on railway systems, aquatic environments, “renewable” energy and digital technology development.
Railway system projects account for NT$440 billion of the total allocations, the Cabinet said.
Taiwan Institute of Economic Research’s (TIER, 台灣經濟研究院) economist Gordon Sun (孫明德) on Tuesday said that he failed to see how the program could have a positive influence on the economy this year as government-backed programs usually take a long time to implement.
Additional reporting by Abraham Gerber
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.