Fri, Aug 02, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmaker decides not to join caucus for independents

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a dramatic turnabout, an independent lawmaker declared yesterday he would not join the legislative caucus that is due to be established today.

The decision caught other independent colleagues off guard who must now find at least one more member to form their own caucus.

Independent Legislator Tsai Hau (蔡豪), who represents the southernmost county of Pingtung, told reporters yesterday afternoon he has decided not to take part in the caucus. He did not say why.

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.

Later, Chen Ching-ting (陳進丁), another independent lawmaker, said that he and others had postponed the opening ceremony of the independent caucus until a prospective member Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良) returns from an overseas trip.

Chen declined to comment on Tsai's sudden turnaround. Tsai and seven other independent lawmakers met inside the legislature yesterday to elect their leaders for the next session. Tsai, leader of the former Non-partisan Alliance, departed early, aides said.

Earlier, other independent lawmakers had agreed to make Lin Pin-kuan (林炳坤) and Lu Hsin-ming (呂新民) their caucus convener and deputy convener, respectively. Chen himself would act as caucus whip while Kao Meng-ting (高孟定) would be its spokesman.

Chen said that the personnel plan would remain unchanged, despite the decision by Tsai not to join the caucus.

He said the caucus would give top priority to finding enough members, adding that Chiu has indicated that he is interested in joining.

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

The independent lawmakers said they would focus on non-political issues in a bid to act as a stabilizing force in the divided Legislative Yuan.

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