Sun, Nov 16, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Academic watchdog criticizes legislators' performance


Lawmakers failed to do a good job in the last legislative session as far as the number of laws passed and the quality of their lawmaking is concerned, a watchdog for legislative performance said.

The legislature formulated 11 laws in the third legislative session, which ran from February to June, less than the 16 and 18 laws that were completed by the same lawmakers in the previous two sessions respectively, said Hawang Shiow-duan (黃秀端), a professor of political science at Soochow University and member of the Taipei Society (澄社).

Hawang made the remarks in a press conference held by the Taipei Society in Taipei yesterday afternoon.

She was invited to discuss her research on legislative efficiency and lawmakers' performance in the last session.

She said the lawmakers only reviewed 53 bills, far less than the 153 and 101 they had reviewed in their previous sessions.

"The smaller number of bills goes against the belief that legislators should be more skilled in lawmaking in the last session because the legislative freshmen had had two sessions to learn how to review and formulate laws," she said.

Hawang said there was nothing special about those bills that did clear the floor with regard to the quality of lawmaking.

The dramatic increase in the number of bills finalized in the last few sittings of the session indicate that lawmakers were possibly wrapping up some legislation carelessly, Hawang said.

She said that legislators were not interested in cooperating with the government when it came to their efficiency in finalizing bills earmarked by the Executive Yuan as priorities.

"Almost all the bills earmarked by the Cabinet as legislative priorities relating to political reforms, restructuring of the government and the so-called `sunshine' bills remain at the legislature despite the Executive Yuan's urging," she said.

Some of the bills, such as the proposed organic law of the commission against corruption, which would be under the Ministry of Justice, had been rejected by the legislature's Procedure Committee as many as 20 times, Hawang said.

Hawang said she doubted legislative filibusters in the Procedure Committee could jeopardize the goal of normalizing responsible politics.

The committee treats proposed bills from individual lawmakers and draft laws presented by the Cabinet equally, she said, which is different from the way the legislature in most countries handles government-initiated bills.

In Cabinet-system countries, the Cabinet presented 90 percent of legislative bills, Hawang said, and lawmakers need to prioritize these bills from those they offer themselves.

Even in a presidential-system country such as the US, bills drafted by members of Congress on behalf of the president were taken as a priority, since these bills were usually significant and relevant to major domestic issues, she said.

Hawang also said that it would be worth reviewing the current procedures of the Procedure Committee.

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