Sat, Sep 28, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers snub English

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Leaders from all legislative caucuses have determined that lawmakers should not use foreign languages when questioning Cabinet officials.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) floated the suggestion, to which representatives attending a cross-party talk on Thursday evening gave their support.

The non-binding proposal was aimed at saving Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Cabinet officials from further embarrassment during interpellations.

Yu's English skills were put to the test on Tuesday when TSU lawmaker John Wang (王政中) quizzed him in English on various current affairs.

"I heard from abroad that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is arranging a meeting between first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) and her US counterpart Laura Bush. Is this a correct assumption?" Wang asked in English.

Failing to understand the question, the premier looked perplexed. Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) had to come to his rescue and assume the role of an interpreter.

Yu then replied in Mandarin that he had a bumpy educational process and that his English is not good.

"I only speak a little English," he added, in English.

Legislative whips from across party lines promised the speaker they would ask their colleagues not to use foreign languages on the legislative floor.

They also reached a tentative agreement on how to divide the chairmanship of the 12 standing committees among the four legislative caucuses.

Each committee can elect three conveners whose main job is to preside over committee meetings.

Under the multi-partisan pact, the DPP, the biggest party in the legislature, will be given at least one chairperson's seat in all the committees.

The KMT will have 11 chairpersons' seats, the PFP eight and the TSU three.

The arrangement will become invalid if independent lawmakers lodge protests before Oct. 2, when the legislature is due to decide the membership of the individual committees.

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