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Wed, Aug 23, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Consensus in legislature starts to show cracks

NO DEAL New Party legislators have withdrawn support for the recent agreement made limiting the judiciary's power to search the legislature

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Political analysts said yesterday that the New Party's about-face over the issue of judicial searches of the confines of the legislature was motivated by the party's sensitivity to the strong public support of the government's moves to crack down on corruption and "black gold" activities.

Last Thursday, in the name of safeguarding the dignity of the legislature, Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that any judicial search of premises under the legislature's control must first be approved by himself.

Wang's announcement was part of a consensus reached after cross-party negotiations.

It was, however, invalidated when the New Party caucus over the weekend refused to endorse the consensus.

"The severe public backlash against the conclusions reached at the legislature forced the New Party to refuse to endorse these agreements," said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), a political analyst at National Chengchi University.

The events were triggered after prosecutors searched KMT Legislator Liao Hwu-peng's (廖福本) legislative research room as well as his apartment at the Ta-an Complex, a residential building for legislators, last Wednesday.

Party caucus leaders in the legislature convened the next day to take stock of the views of lawmakers on the issue.

One of the major agreements reached at the closed-door meeting stated that any actions the judicial powers intend to carry out within the confines of the legislature should have the speaker's permission first.

The "confines of the legislature" was taken to include the legislative chamber, conference rooms, office complexes, lawmakers' research rooms, their residential complexes and other related subsidiary areas, Wang said.

But according to the Legislators' Demeanor Law, a code of conduct that governs the behavior of lawmakers, the New Party's refusal to endorse these conclusions means that these statements have become "invalid," and can no longer be said to represent lawmakers' opinions.

DPP lawmakers, including Tsai Ming-shian (蔡明憲) and Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠), cautioned that the conclusions reached at Thursday's meeting and presented as authoritative statements representative of lawmakers' opinions, may create the impression in the public mind that the legislature has become "a center of wrongdoing (犯罪租界)."

Following the new government's announcement that August is "anti-crime month" and that it will work to clean up the legislature while the body is in recess, analysts said recent moves taken by the judicial branches against certain lawmakers could be seen as having "symbolic" significance.

Wang Yeh-li (王業立), a professor of political science at Tunghai University, said the investigation into Liao's alleged involvement in the selling of bogus Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp shares "is symbolically important because it shows the government's determination to crack down on crime and corruption."

The fact that Taipei prosecutors indicted KMT Legislator You Hwai-yin (游准銀) for stock manipulation last Wednesday -- the first time a legislator has been targeted for prosecution since the DPP came to power last May -- served as another example, Wu said.

Wu added that it comes as no surprise that the Chen administration has targeted the legislature in its bid to fight crime. After all, "some lawmakers have headed local political factions which are deeply involved in financial scandal at the local level," Wu said.

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