The race to appoint the new legislative speaker is heating up as the legislative election campaign picks up speed, with the pan-green candidate, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), lashing out at incumbent Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) over "black gold" politics.
Two days ago a local Chinese-language daily printed interviews with Chang and Wang about their outlook for their election campaigns. While Wang attacked Chang's performance as premier during the disputes over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, Chang hinted that Wang, as legislative speaker, had offered protection for "black gold lawmakers."
Chang said that, during the past two legislative terms, the Legislative Yuan has resisted the courts' requests to arrest lawmakers who had broken laws.
He added that the legislature even helped certain lawmakers who have been banned from travelling abroad to leave the country during the legislative recess and to avoid arrest.
But according to the Legislative Yuan, only one request for the arrest of a lawmaker was received during Wang's term as speaker -- that of independent lawmaker Su Yin-kuei (蘇盈貴).
The court's request was delivered to the legislature's Procedure Committee, and the committee resolved to simply ignore the request, the legislature said yesterday.
Further, according to the legislature, when a lawmaker who has been banned from international travel wants to make a request to the court or the Ministry of Finance for permission to temporarily leave the country, the lawmaker has to contact the Legislative Yuan's secretariat for help with necessary administrative procedures. The legislative speaker's office is not informed of the request. The request goes no further than a copy being sent to the office of the secretary-general of the Legislative Yuan.
But the pan-green camp said yesterday that it was questionable whether the legislative speaker would really know nothing about lawmakers requesting temporary suspension of a travel ban.
"If the legislative speaker did not approve of the request, will the secretariat be bold enough to approve the request on its own?" DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) asked, citing fugitive former legislator Wu Tze-yuan (伍澤元) as an example.
Wu had asked the legislature to help him with a request for a temporary suspension of his travel ban at the end of 2001, but he never returned. Wu is now believed to be hiding in China.