The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) should follow legislative rules and file a reconsideration motion if it is serious about maintaining Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower, 台電) budget, rather than asking committee staff to alter the proceedings, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses said yesterday morning after a meeting was suspended for party negotiations.
Members of the legislature’s Economics Committee met yesterday to confirm the contents of the minutes of a committee meeting on Thursday last week, during which the DPP caucus proposed a motion to reject the state-owned utility’s budget request for this year, amid growing public concern over nuclear energy, and immediately halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
The extemporaneous motion, described by some KMT legislators as an “ambush,” was passed without demurral in the Thursday meeting presided over by DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) and packed with DPP lawmakers.
As the KMT caucus vowed to tender a reconsideration motion to counter the DPP proposal, yesterday’s committee meeting was attended by heavyweights from both camps, including KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), KMT caucus deputy whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and DPP caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安).
However, instead of tabling a reconsideration motion, KMT Legislator Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) just said the DPP-initiated proposal contained procedural flaws, a view seconded by KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), who presided over the meeting.
At Huang’s request, Economics Committee secretary-general Lee Shui-tsu (李水足) said that because only the title of the DPP-proposed motion had been read out at Thursday’s meeting and the motion did not enter the process of reporting and discussions, it was listed as an “other matter” instead of a “resolution,” which would guarantee that it enter the legislature.
Accusing Lee of political bias, Huang Wei-cher said he realized that the DPP-proposed motion was falsely listed as an “other matter” when he was about to sign a draft of the meeting minutes and quickly changed it back to “resolution.”
As the two caucuses were deadlocked over the status of the DPP-initiated motion, Huang Chao-shun announced a temporary recess at 9:30am for cross-party negotiations, which yielded few results and were followed by another round of negotiations at 10:20am.
Despite not being stipulated by law, Lin said it was standard practice that all motions proposed during meetings of legislative committees undergo a first reading and discussion before they can become resolutions.
“The KMT caucus will invite Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to hold cross-party negotiations on the issue to avoid future squabbles [over the practice],” Lin said.
Lai said that if the DPP caucus wanted to establish new practices, it should gain approval first via cross-party negotiations.
The proceedings of the committee meeting on Thursday were legal and recorded on tape, and KMT lawmakers at the meeting did not voice any objections to the proceedings, Pan told a press conference later.
The committee staff members’ unilateral alteration of the proceedings was unacceptable, Pan said, adding that the staff, who are supposed to be neutral had acted as tools for a political party if the change of the proceedings had been made at the KMT’s request.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) denied a KMT claim that no resolution could be passed before government officials deliver a report on it or are interpolated during committee meetings, saying there was no such requirement in the regulations.
Four impromptu proposals — two made by the KMT and two by the DPP — were passed in Thursday’s committee meeting, showing that KMT lawmakers at the meeting “knew what was going on,” TSU Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said.
Hsu said he suspected the KMT decided to challenge the validity of the resolution passed on Thursday rather than demand a reconsideration because the KMT could lose the vote if a reconsideration proposal was submitted.
A number of the nine KMT lawmakers on the committee oppose the construction of the nuclear power plant, he said.
Hsu said that the resolution on Thursday was legally binding and could not be unilaterally rescinded by any individual or party.
Lawmakers acknowledged that Taipower’s budget was not the real issue, but that it was the suspension of the construction of the plant that was the key issue. The company would not be able to continue construction if the budget were frozen.