Tue, Jul 02, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Independents try to form caucus

LEGISLATIVE GROUPINGS Eight lawmakers say they want to play a stabilizing force in the legislature, where no party has a majority and partisan rancor runs deep

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature may see another caucus in the fall session, as independent lawmakers said yesterday they have gathered just enough members to form their own group.

The independent lawmakers said they wanted to act as a stabilizing force in the Legislative Yuan, where no party has a majority and partisan rancor runs deep.

Independents legislators Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁) Tsai Hau (蔡豪), Yen Chin-piao (顏清標), Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良), Kao Meng-ting (高孟定) and Lin Pin-kuan (林炳坤) have agreed to join the caucus.

Aborigine Legislator Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林) and New Party Legislator Wu Cherng-dean (吳成典) have also given their approval.

A caucus must consist of at least eight lawmakers or garner more than 5 percent of the vote in legislative elections, according to the Legislative Yuan's rules.

Chen, who was expelled from the KMT last week, said he and other would-be caucus members were to meet last night to discuss how the new group would conduct business.

Despite their different sizes, all legislative caucuses enjoy equal say in cross-party negotiations.

If formed, the proposed caucus would be the fifth of its kind and would most likely adopt the name the "Non-partisan Alliance," which was dissolved last session due to a lack of members.

Members of the old Non-partisan Alliance, who paid for the caucus' miscellaneous outlays, were awarded its helm.

"That explained why former independent lawmaker Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) repeatedly acted as the alliance's leader; he picked up all its bills," said a legislative aide, who requested anonymity. "For the same reason, Tsai later took up the leadership after Lo was banned from the legislature for beating a female colleague."

Last year, Lo punched the PFP's Diane Lee (李慶安), knocking her to the floor and earning him a six-month suspension.

All caucuses can send representatives to cross-party negotiations, which play a pivotal role in settling disputes over the content of bills and the order of business.

Tsai said the new caucus would commit itself to preserving political stability, although he did not elaborate. However, he labeled a proposal to raise the minimum membership for a caucus to 12 as "malignant"

"It is ill-conceived to amend the threshold, which was agreed on by all caucuses and has only been in place for one session," Tsai said. "I hope other parties would respect our wish for the sake of harmony."

Earlier, DPP and TSU lawmakers had separately suggested raising the membership threshold from 8 to 12, in a bid to draw the independents to their folds.

But seeking greater say and autonomy in legislation, the independents prefer their own caucus.

Tsai threatened to introduce a bill calling for the caucus threshold to be raised to 15 if the TSU insists on thwarting the revival of his group. The TSU caucus has 13 members.

DPP Legislative Leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said his party's caucus would not stand in the way. Ker said that all lawmakers are free to introduce bills but that containment tactics are unhealthy.

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