Tue, Jul 10, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Legislature re-engages blues' agenda

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION Nineteen bills are scheduled to be reviewed during the two-week meeting, but political rivalries could keep any bills from being passed

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers set the agenda for the special legislative session yesterday, putting a couple of controversial election-related bills on the list.

The extra session opens today and will review 19 bills backed by the pan-blue alliance, which is composed of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party and the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union.

The agenda was set after the pan-green camp failed to push through their request of a review of 18 bills during the two-week session. There was a clear difference in bills to be reviewed between the pan-blue and pan-green agendas, although there were six items in common.

Among the most controversial of the pan-blue proposals was a bill designed to eliminate the corruption allegations against KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Ma is on trial for wiring half of his monthly mayoral special allowance as mayor of Taipei to the bank accounts of himself and his wife. A proposed amendment to the Audit Law (審計法) would redefine the special mayoral allowance as a "substantial subsidy."

Another disputed bill backed by the KMT calls for an absentee voting system. It wants people who handle electoral administration, military personnel and police who are on duty on election days, and people who study or work in counties or cities outside their registered residences to be able to apply for absentee ballots.

The DPP have said that the bill would allow the approximately 1 million Taiwanese businesspeople living and working in China to cast absentee votes and provide an opportunity for the Chinese authorities to manipulate the elections.

Another long-standing debate about revising the 28th, 29th and 30th clauses of the Statute Governing the Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) was also placed on the agenda.

The amendment would allow Taiwanese ships and aircraft to sail or fly directly to China within three months of the bill being passed by the legislature.

The pan-green camp's request for a review of a bill on retrieving the KMT's stolen assets, a proposed amendment to toughen regulations on political contributions and draft legislation calling for a level playing filed for political parties were all rejected by pan-blue lawmakers.

The pan-blues did include two long-delayed budget bills for the current fiscal year on the agenda -- one for the NT$3.07 trillion (US$100 billion) budget for state-owned enterprises and the NT$1.15 trillion budget for governmental non-profit funds and the second for the NT$77.3 billion special budget for public construction projects.

But Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that whether the two camps could break their deadlock on a proposed amendment to the Organic Law of the Central Election Commission (中央選舉委員會組織法) would determine the passage of the two budget bills.

The pan-blue camp agreed to list the budget bill for state-owned enterprises and governmental non-profit funds as the first item to be reviewed and place the commission amendment second.

The KMT-backed amendment to the commission's organic law would create a pan-blue majority in the body by stipulating that its members are chosen according to the parties' number of legislative seats instead of being appointed by the premier.

KMT caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said his party has showed its sincerity in taking care of issues concerning the economy and people's livelihood during the extra session by moving the budget bill ahead of the CEC bill.

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