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Tue, Sep 28, 1999 - Page 3 News List

Legislature will cooperate to pass emergency decree

UNISON The three major parties are joining forces to take on the tremendous task of rebuilding the island

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a concerted effort rarely seen in Taiwan politics, the legislative caucuses of the three major parties yesterday reached a consensus to help push forward post-quake restoration work by passing the emergency decree announced by President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

The legislature also decided to cancel an initial agreement to adjourn legislative sessions for two weeks.

In a joint statement made by legislative caucuses of the KMT, DPP, and the New Party, the legislature will review and vote today on the emergency decree announced for the enhancement of rescue and restoration work in the wake of last week's quake.

Representatives from the three parties' caucuses said they would not adjourn legislative sessions for the two weeks between Sept. 29 and Oct. 14 to make sure the government was responsible in its restoration efforts.

The decision was made after hours of closed-door negotiations between the three legislative caucuses, who demonstrated a rare unified attitude toward the single issue.

Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of the KMT pointed out several reasons why the legislature needed to stay in session.

"We need to be in session to monitor the government's enforcement of restoration tasks. And we can also have time to reflect on the needs of the people affected by the quake," Wang said.

Although the three parties agreed on passing the emergency decree in today's session, the actual passage of the decree is not expected to be automatic, as it is subject to a review and secret vote by all the legislators, including independent ones.

There are other pressing concerns in addition to the restoration projects. KMT legislative caucus leader Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said his party now has an urgent need to push forward the court martial law bill, which he said must be passed before Oct. 1; otherwise, there will be no law to handle criminal offenses by personnel of the armed forces. Both the DPP and the New Party have other concerns as well. By combining efforts to pass bills relevant to the restoration work they will be better able to accomplish their various tasks.

DPP legislative caucus leader Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the party plans to draft a special law -- an emergency decree -- for the restoration of quake-affected regions, which he said will be modeled on a similar law which the Japanese parliament enacted within 40 days of the Kobe earthquake in 1995.

"We plan to do so mainly because the emergency decree's effective period [six months] is not long enough for the rebuilding efforts to be completed and also because the decree does not have clear definitions for restoration work in various areas," Chen said.

"We hope our special law will provide a clear legal basis for all sorts of post-quake restoration tasks, including relocation of homeless people, tax reduction or exemption for them, distribution of resources, institution of social welfare programs, and assignment of powers and responsibilities of governments at all levels involved in the tasks," he said.

"We expect the restoration work to last for around four years. So we have three to four years in mind as we plan for the effective period of the law," he said.

The New Party also plans to propose a similar bill, but it is more interested in gaining support from the other two parties for the establishment of a special committee in the legislature to supervise the enforcement of the emergency decree.

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