Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Professionalism in legislature gains forum’s support

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

An academic yesterday urged the legislature to launch a 24-hour congressional TV channel to help the public supervise the Legislative Yuan.

Ted Chiou (丘昌泰), a professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at National Taipei University, said the legislature needs to establish an around-the-clock TV channel that would broadcast every legislative session live.

Chiou said this could serve as a way to keep legislators from resorting to verbal abuse during legislative meetings.

“Our legislators get elected because they are skilled at staging ‘shows,’ not because they are rational politicians,” he told the audience at a forum held by the Chinese Cross-Strait Technological, Cultural and Academic Exchange Association on strengthening congressional ethics. “Taiwanese are proud of our democracy, but the [legislators’] verbal violence has become a negative characteristic of our democracy.”

Chiou’s call coincided with a consensus reached by a legislative delegation to the US last Thursday to launch a live congressional channel following the example of the US’ C-SPAN.

After visiting Capitol Hill and C-SPAN offices last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Daniel Hwang (黃義交) and Nancy Chao (趙麗雲) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) agreed to the need to establish such a TV channel to prevent lawmakers from resorting to gimmicks in a bid to earn TV exposure.

“We hope our conclusion will be approved by the plenary session and that the channel will be launched before the next legislative session ends in January,” Hwang said at the time.

Herman Chiang (江岷欽), a professor at National Taipei University, said at the forum yesterday that Taiwan should aim to improve discipline and order in its Legislative Yuan with the objective of creating a better democracy and upgrading the efficiency and quality of lawmaking.

The performance of lawmakers and the practices they observe should be more closely examined, as this would determine the level of trust the people invest in the Legislative Yuan, he said.

“In some advanced Western countries, the views of senior lawmakers are often sought by the administration and these seniors are sometimes even selected as Cabinet members,” Chiang said, suggesting that Taiwan follow the US Congress’ example and establish a seniority system.

The seniority system in Congress grants influential committee positions and other prerogatives to representatives and senators on the basis of the relative length of their continuous service on committees or in their respective houses.

Another panelist, Ho Po-wen (何博文), supported Chiang’s call for the establishment of a seniority system in the legislature, saying that professionalism in lawmaking has and impact on the quality of the laws enacted as well as on the efficiency of the process.

Ho also suggested that more public hearings be held to allow lawmakers better understand the public’s opinions.

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