Mon, Jan 21, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Reform the legislature, forum advises

SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE Outgoing KMT Legislator Joanna Lei was among those who said changes have to be made to improve the functioning of the Legislative Yuan

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Reform is necessary to improve the quality of the legislature, academics said at a forum in Taipei yesterday.

"Some Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] lawmakers attend more of their supporters' wedding banquets and funerals than they do legislative meetings. They also spend more time thinking about how to get re-elected or how to earn back the money they spent on their election campaigns," said Yang Jih-ching (楊日清), a political science professor at National Chengchi University. "The KMT should have a system to prevent such legislators from being nominated again."

Yang spoke at a forum hosted by National Taiwan University political science professor Chang Lin-cheng (張麟徵). The forum was called to discuss whether the newly reduced legislature will prove more efficient than its predecessors.

For the new legislative session due to convene on Feb. 1, the number of legislative seats has been reduced from 225 to 113, with the KMT securing 81 seats in the Jan. 12 legislative elections.

KMT Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) told the forum that she believed the legislature should be more transparent.

"For example, at the moment, cross-party negotiation processes are not open to the public -- only the final results are," she said, adding that much maneuvering went on behind the scenes.

While all other legislative meetings are recorded, "the recordings can only be viewed from within the legislature. We need to make them public," Lei said.

Lei ran in the Jan. 12 elections as a representative of the New Party. However, none of the party's candidates will be able to enter the Legislative Yuan, as the New Party only received 4 percent of the second ballot.

Lei said that more legislation was required to keep the legislature in check.

"Only when there is total transparency and regulated lobbying and conflict of interest avoidance will legislative politics become `clean,'" she said.

On whether the new legislature -- with the KMT holding a comfortable two-thirds majority -- would become a one-party "legislative monster," Alexander Lu (呂亞力), chairman of the political science department at Chinese Culture University, said he was not concerned.

"I wouldn't worry that the election result would create a setback in democracy, because the change in the electoral system was agreed upon by all major political parties, and the new legislature is a result of a direct election," he said.

"In other words, it's a reflection of the will of the people," Lu said.

Lu said the new status quo could help to make the legislature more efficient.

"Now the KMT is fully responsible for what happens in the legislature. If it does a bad job, the majority could go to another party in the next election," Lu said.

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