Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Yu returns, but refuses to suffer in silence

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun, center, receives a warm welcome by Democratic Progressive Party legislators as he enters the legislative chamber yesterday to continue the interpellation session that was interrupted by his walkout on Tuesday in response to verbal abuse by two opposition legislators.

PHOTO: CNA

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday returned to the legislature to resume the question-and-answer cession after his walkout on Tuesday.

"The Constitution has clear regulations regarding the interaction between the legislature and the Cabinet, and I respect democracy and the Constitution, and the legislature," Yu said before stepping into the legislative floor.

"Meanwhile, the legislature's efficiency and quality needs reflection too, and the legislators should not ask questions that were out of bounds. The chairperson should stop improper questions," he continued.

"All the procedures including government officials and the legislator speaking up and going up and down from the podium should be consented by the session chairperson first, and the session needed to be completely controlled by the chair," Yu added.

Yu then demonstrated his newfound respect for legislative protocal by insisting on prefacing each of his answers to questions asked by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) with a request for permission to speak. After Yang would finish speaking, Yu would ask Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) whether he had permission to answer the question.

Yang was extremely irritated by Yu's continual requests for permission to speak, saying it was wasting precious question-and-answer session time. Wang also became impatient and told Yu that he could speak freely without asking for permission. But Yu stuck to his guns and continued to ask Wang for permission to speak each and every time he answered a question.

Wang again told Yu to speak freely, twice saying that it was unnecessary for participants in the question-and-answer session to be unreasonable.

Yu responded by saying he did not understand what Wang was getting at, and continued to ask Wang for permission to speak.

After the morning session had adjourned, Wang told reporters that he thought Yu was showing "ill-manners and contempt" toward the legislature.

"The legislature is the manifestation of democracy, and the government should not interfere with the legislature's system and operations. Yu's public accusation that the legislature is inefficient is not true, and it has hurt the relationship between the legislature and the Cabinet," Wang said.

Yu, however, said that he had demonstrated the utmost respect toward the legislature.

"As my actions have demonstrated, I respect the legislature's schedule. I have returned to take questions, and this should show that I respect the legislature," Yu said.

In support of Yu, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus urged the legislature to change its questioning mode from a "one question, one answer" to a "three questions, three answers" format.

The Q&A session is conducted with a legislator asking a question and the Premier or other officials immediately answering. The "three questions, three answers" format is a legacy of the past, when legislators would ask three questions in succession, after which officials would provide the three answers.

The DPP also said that questioning sesions for individual legislators should be replaced by caucus questioning sessions in which each caucus is allocated time in proportion to its size.

However, the KMT said that returning to the "three questions, three answers" format would be retrogressive.

In the afternoon, the sessions became smoother when most questioners were from the DPP caucus.

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