Tue, May 13, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Epidemic moving to the forefront of legislative agenda

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

With people across the country talking about little else, SARS is now taking over the agenda of the Legislative Yuan.

Several legislative committees will be calling for experts and government officials as lawmakers attempt to better understand the epidemic.

"This is merely a way for legislators to try to carry out their legislative responsibilities in monitoring how the disease is being contained in order to safeguard the electorate's security and interests," PFP Legislator Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) said.

Chung gave the example of the Sanitation, Environment and Social Welfare Committee, which today will hear from the Executive Yuan's SARS response committee deputy convener Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) and Department of Health Director-General Twu Shing-jer (涂醒哲) on the SARS crisis.

"The committee members requested [these officials] as they feel that legislators must keep updated on the latest [SARS] information and ensure that the administration is enacting the best countermeasures," Chung said.

The Sci-Tech and Information Committee will also examine the epidemic, inviting representatives from the National Science Council and science-park administrators today to learn about what high-tech industries are doing to battle SARS.

"Legislators certainly have to express their concern over the epidemic," said KMT legislative caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuang (曾永權), "since SARS is the most serious epidemic to hit the island in 50 years."

However, the DPP is worried that, in its zeal to seem involved, the legislature will become a burden on those it wants to oversee.

"The legislative requests should not go too far," said Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), DPP legislative caucus whip.

"It is improper to bring too many frontline staff to the Legislative Yuan while they are trying to halt the spread of the disease," Ker said.

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