Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Legislators praised for online access

SAY ‘EGGPLANT’! A video showing live coverage of what happens on the floor of the legislature was made available online to viewers starting yesterday morning

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislative watchdog Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) honored lawmakers in a ceremony yesterday for helping push for online access to the legislature’s video-on-demand (VOD) system.

“This is one small step for the legislature, but one giant leap in Taiwan’s democracy,” CCW chairman Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華) said at the ceremony at the legislature to give a “special contribution to legislative transparency” award to lawmakers who supported the project.

Legislative meetings have long been broadcast live and recorded through the VOD system, but they could only be viewed from within the Legislative Yuan. Since the CCW was created two years ago, pushing for public access to the system was one of the group’s major tasks.

The legislature also created its own special task force to evaluate the idea last July.

The decision to open the VOD to the public was made last month.

“It wasn’t an easy task, because some legislators wanted to allow public access as soon as possible, while others were more reserved about it,” said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Daniel Hwang (黃義交), who headed the special task force, after accepting the award from Ku. “We had to convince those who were opposed to the idea one by one.”

He said that some legislators who think they are not good speakers or those who stay in their constituencies to interact with supporters rather than attending legislative meetings worried that live broadcasts of meetings could damage their images.

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), also a member of the commission, said that allowing the public to directly monitor what lawmakers do was a good thing.

“I know that some of our colleagues work really hard to come up with a good [legislative] proposal, but the media are not always interested,” Ting said. “So the public may only see a short report, and sometimes they don’t even know who made the proposal.”

Another commission member, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠), said the broadcast would help fairness between political parties.

“Some 500 DPP legislative proposals were blocked [in the last legislative session], but the people don’t know which bills were blocked, why they were blocked or who blocked them because TV news don’t always show the whole story,” she said.

All award recipients agreed that the next step toward transparency would be a TV channel that broadcasts legislative meetings.

The VOD system ran smoothly with only minor problems on its first day of allowing public access, legislative information engineer Chuang Kun-ta (莊昆達) said.

The highest number of viewers on the VOD system came at 11am when around 880 people viewed it at the same time, he said.

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