Sun, Mar 03, 2002 - Page 3 News List

President willing to help independents form own caucus

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Playing a minor but decisive role, independent lawmakers are the latest targets of the DPP government as it tries to win allies in the legislature.

There is a possibility that the DPP might be willing to help independent lawmakers form a caucus in the legislature in exchange for their support.

Independent lawmaker Kao Meng-ting (高孟定) said yesterday he had been told by officials from the Presidential Office that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) would assist in the formation of such a caucus.

A Presidential Office official, who declined to be named, confirmed that the Presidential Office has been keeping in close contact with the independent lawmakers.

However, the official denied that the Presidential Office has made any commitment to assist in the formation of a caucus.

According to the Standing Order of the Legislative Yuan, a caucus must consist of a minimum of eight members.

There are a total of 12 independent lawmakers in the current legislature, but five of them have opted to join a party-based legislative caucus, though they still maintain their status as independents.

These include Eugene Chao (趙永清) and Chang Hua-kuan (張花冠), who have joined the DPP legislative caucus; Sisy Chen (陳文茜), who has joined the PFP caucus; and Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁) and Lin Pin-kun (林炳坤), who have joined the KMT caucus.

Besides Kao, those who have not joined any caucus are Tsai Hao (蔡豪), Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), Kao-Chin Su-mei (高金素梅), Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林), Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良) and Hung Chao-nan (洪昭男).

Chiu and Hung were originally from the PFP and KMT, respectively, but they recently quit their parties.

It is still uncertain if the two will join the independent caucus.

Meanwhile, another potential member of the independent caucus is Wu Cheng-tien (吳成典), the New Party's only lawmaker.

Without the backing of a caucus, independent lawmakers are excluded from inter-party negotiations and lack the leverage to vie for the convenership of legislative committees.

Sources said that President Chen hopes to group the independent lawmakers together to become a force helpful to the DPP government if they, for some reason, could not join the DPP caucus.

The DPP has employed various methods to prevent the independent lawmakers from joining the rival KMT and PFP caucuses and has even encouraged KMT and PFP lawmakers to leave their parties, the sources added.

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