Wed, Nov 12, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Legislative bureau says direct links agreement illegal

RAISING OF THE FLAG Members of the legislature said that shipping laws required boats to raise the flags of both countries when they arrive at port

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan and the legislature were at odds yesterday over whether agreements on direct sea and air transportation links the government recently signed with China required revisions of existing laws.

Liu Han-ting (劉漢廷), director of the legislature’s Organic Laws and Statutes Bureau, called on the Executive Yuan yesterday to respect the spirit of the Constitution rather than decide “at its own discretion” on major shifts in cross-strait policies.

Liu said the opening of direct cross-strait air and sea links qualified as an “important matter of the state” and cited Article 63 of the Constitution, which reads: “The Legislative Yuan shall have the power to pass bills on laws, budgets, martial law, amnesty … and other important matters of state.”

He said that setting up transport links with Taiwan was one of China’s most important strategies over the past 20 years to deter Taiwan from moving further toward de jure independence as they would increase social and economic ties and pave the way for a peaceful agreement between the two sides.

“Would it be unreasonable for the legislature to have its say on this issue?” Liu said.

Liu made the remarks following remarks by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who said on Monday that the two agreements were in contravention of the nation’s laws.

The two agreements require changes to Article 29 of the Statute Governing the Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) and Article 25 of the Commercial Port Law (商港法), Liu said.

Contrary to the views of Wang and the legislative bureau, the Executive Yuan has said that the legislature has the right to approve or veto the two agreements, but no right to amend laws concerning direct cross-strait links.

“The Executive Yuan very much respects the opinions of the legislature, but the contents of the two agreements require no amendment to current laws,” Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said.

Liu Te-shun said Article 29 authorized governmental agencies to draw up measures for direct cross-strait links without being subject to regulations governing international air and sea transport such as the Commercial Port Act.

Article 25 of the Commercial Port Act states that vessels are required to raise the country’s flag along with the flag of its own country when entering and leaving the nation’s harbors.

The cross-strait agreement on sea links did not comply with Article 25 of the Commercial Port Act as it required vessels to raise only flags of their parent companies and not the flags of Taiwan or China when traversing the routes, Liu Han-ting said.

Liu Han-ting also accused the government of wrongly interpreting Article 29.

The government is not authorized by the article to formulate measures for cross-strait direct links when it comes to how the government should manage activities of Chinese aircrafts and vessels in the country’s airports and harbors, Liu Han-ting said.

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