Sun, Jul 13, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Newsmaker: Wang front and center during session

MEDIATOR The legislative speaker helped secure the passage of four key bills during the extraordinary session, but was criticized by his KMT colleagues for his decision to delay referendum legislation

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng receives an enthusiastic welcome at the Lee Teng-hui Academy yesterday. Facing criticism for his handling of the three-day legislative session, Wang said that the law is greater than any political party and that he conducts sessions in accordance with the law rather than party interests.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) was a leading figure in the three-day extra session, seeing four stimulus-related bills clear the legislative floor and handling referendum legislation.

"My ruling over the referendum legislation was explicit that more multiparty negotiations need to take place before the legislature can pass the law. The ruling was made in accordance with the legislative rules of procedure," Wang said on Friday in response to dissatisfaction with his performance among opposition lawmakers.

On Thursday, Wang concluded the extra session at 10:34pm after declaring that legislators must hold more negotiations before a referendum law can be formed.

By so doing, Wang became embroiled in the war between the ruling and opposition camps over the legislation.

In an unusual move, no DPP members challenged Wang and the most prominent critics of the speaker were Wang's colleagues with the KMT.

In addition to KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進), who snatched Wang's agenda sheet on Thursday night to disrupt the speaker's announcement to conclude the session, KMT Legislator Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) openly disagreed with Wang's decision to delay the referendum bill.

"How can the nation embark on an all-out drive to revive the economy while the referendum legislation remains unsolved?" Wang Chung-yu asked.

Wang Jin-pyng, also a KMT vice chairman, tried to convince his fellow lawmakers that he did not harbor any partisan interests in ending the session by leaving the referendum bill unresolved.

"As speaker of the Legislative Yuan, I must carry out my duty to comply with laws, he said.

"People will approve my handling of the case someday, even though there are some voices doubting my deeds," Wang said.

The speaker was influential in seeing four of the six major economic bills pass during the special session.

Wang, after wrapping up a one-week trip to the US on July 1, saw that multiparty negotiations on the six bills had gone nowhere and said he had to ensure the special session achieved results.

Without a consensus on any of the bills, Wang became busy on the eve of the session.

He spent his time holding closed-door negotiations in the Assembly Hall.

"I could hardly go to the toilet since I know that you are waiting outside and will catch every opportunity to demand my update," Wang said.

"I was also hesitant to go away from the closed-door meeting even just for one minute due to the fear that a sudden change could happen and void my effort," he said.

Wang averted a showdown at the beginning of the session by settling the legislative agenda through a vote after persuading the DPP to make a concession on the agenda.

"The DPP accepted Wang's advice to ... make the referendum legislation the second item for the three-day meeting. We take this as a goodwill gesture to the KMT-PFP alliance and we like to believe that the speaker will fulfill his promise to help the ruling party in expediting legislative approval for the six bills," said DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).

Wang, meanwhile, urged the nine-member alliance of independent lawmakers to give the last-minute go-ahead to the Statue Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Ports (自由貿易港區設置及管理條例), regardless of whether they got the support of other parties to prioritize a draft on offshore islands in the next legislative session, legislative sources said.

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