Thu, Jun 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Independents seeking new voice

POLITICAL ALIGNMENT With their ranks soon to be bolstered by former KMT members, independents are hoping to revive their caucus in the legislature

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Seeking to have more say in future legislation, independent lawmakers are making a fresh attempt to resurrect the Non-partisan Alliance, a former legislative caucus that was dissolved for lack of members.

Independents are hoping their ranks will be filled by at least some of the four KMT legislators expelled from their party on Tuesday.

"We're confident this time the alliance can pass the threshold required for its formation," said Chou Chiang-yu (周湘瑜), aide of independent lawmaker Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁). "To that end, Chen will cut short his trip to China on Friday to give the matter a final push."

The legislature's internal rules stipulate that a caucus must consist of at least eight lawmakers or garner more than five percent of the vote in legislative elections.

All caucuses can send representatives to cross-party negotiations, which play an important role in resolving partisan differences over the content of bills and order of business.

Chen, who was expelled from the KMT on Tuesday, was a core member of the Non-partisan Alliance, through which former independent legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) exerted great influence over the lawmaking body.

A caucus can stall the legislative process by withholding its consent from any proposed agreement.

The alliance, if brought back to life, would cooperate with the ruling DPP to help preserve political stability, Chen has said.

Independent lawmakers Tsai Hau (蔡豪), Yen Chin-piao (顏清標), Kao Meng-ting (高孟定), Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林) and Lin Pin-kuan (林炳坤) have promised to join the alliance. Wu Cherng-dean (吳成典) of the New Party has also expressed strong interest.

In the previous session, the independents were one lawmaker short of being able to establish a caucus. Aboriginal lawmaker May Chin (高金素梅) turned down an invitation to join the caucus because she did not want to be associated with Yen, who is involved in corruption scandals.

Yang Wen-hsin (楊文欣) and Lu Hsin-ming (呂新民), two of the four lawmakers booted out of the KMT, are expected to join the alliance, according to Chou, who portrayed independent lawmaker Chiu Chuang-laing (邱創良) as another potential member.

Hung Chao-nan (洪昭男), another independent legislator who earlier broke ranks with the KMT, has said he prefers to remain unaffiliated.

Wu, the sole lawmaker from the pro-unification New Party, said he is looking forward to creating a caucus for independents so that they can have a greater say in legislation in the fall session.

He said his membership of the alliance would not interfere with his political stance or vice versa.

"Non-partisan in nature, the alliance will not take punitive actions against its members in the first place," Wu said. "On issues where there is consensus, members will take collective action. On issues where there is no consensus, members will be free to cast their ballots in line with their own political judgement."

Cashing in on their absence of political affiliations, these lawmakers have been flirting with both the ruling and opposition camps, though most sided with the "pan-green" side during key votes in the past session.

Their backing is believed to have contributed to the narrow victory in the appointment of Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) as Examination Yuan head last Friday.

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