Wed, Apr 24, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Debate over no-shows growing

TROUBLE Saying they are fed up with the administration's disrespect, leaders from the opposition walked out of a cross-party talk and have shut down all negotiations

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The failure of some government officials to answer legislative inquiries triggered a heated debate between ruling and opposition lawmakers yesterday, with Premier Yu Shyi-kun seeking to stay above the fray.

Opposition legislators said they could not effectively exercise legislative oversight in the absence of Cabinet ministers they invite to committee meetings. But their DPP counterparts doubted the necessity of having government officials attend all those forums, many of which are aimed at embarrassing them.

KMT Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) said that officials who refuse to respond to legislative questioning are driven by either arrogance or cowardice.

"I suggest punishing the former by holding them in contempt of the legislature," Yang said, challenging the latter to attend the sessions.

Saying they are fed up with the administration's disrespect, leaders from the opposition KMT and PFP caucuses walked out of a cross-party talk Monday afternoon and have shut down all negotiations.

"Since the session began [in February], the DPP administration has been trampling on the legislature," PFP Legislative Whip Diane Lee (李慶安) said. "We find it meaningless to conduct cross-party talks before the problem is addressed."

Earlier, the four legislative caucuses had agreed to decide tomorrow whether to unfreeze a monthly stipend for senior citizens, among other policy issues that the Cabinet has tagged as priority.

Going a step further, KMT Legislator Kwan Yuk-noan (關沃暖) yesterday called on Secretary-General to the President Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) to resign if he insists on ignoring the legislature.

Chen has declined four invitations to testify before legislative committees in the last two months on grounds none of his KMT predecessors ever set foot in the lawmaking body.

Basis of the dispute

* Secretary-General Chen Shih-meng has declined four invitations to testify before legislative committees in the last two months on grounds that none of his KMT predecessors ever set foot in the lawmaking body.

* Opposition legislators said they could not effectively exercise legislative oversight in the absence of Cabinet ministers they invite to committee meetings.

* The DPP doubts the need to have government officials attend all committee forums, many of which are aimed at embarrassing them.


Also top on the list of no-shows are National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chao-ming (蔡朝明), Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁).

Defending the administration, DPP Legislator Kou Wen-chen (郭玟成) said he could not understand why the opposition parties enjoy finding fault with government officials when they are seeking to revive the economy.

"How can the government concentrate on boosting the economy if its officials have to partake in political stunts staged by opposition lawmakers," Kuo asked.

DPP Legislative Whip Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑) echoed the concern, noting that all Cabinet ministers have to attend full-house interpellation sessions twice a week already.

"They will have little time for policy-making if they have to take part in committee discussions as well as meetings held by various subgroups," Hsu said.

The 12 legislature's standing committees meet three times a week.

Wang Tuoh (王拓), another DPP lawmaker, said his party has asked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to help end the stalemate but estimated it would take some time before the opposition would return to the negotiating table.

The premier, known for his humility, compared himself to a traditional daughter-in-law in Taiwanese society, when asked to comment on the latest partisan spat.

"When the mother-in-law is giving admonitions, the daughter-in-law had better listen quietly," Yu said. "So I find it well-advised for me not to say anything on the matter."

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