A legislative committee yesterday approved the preliminary review of a law that would allow the Presidential Office to establish an unspecific number of committees based on need.
The Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday approved amendments to the Organic Act of the Presidential Office (總統府組織法) that would empower the Presidential Office to form advisory committees depending on its requirements, but committee members could not be paid.
The Presidential Office could also establish a Rules and Regulations Commission in charge of legal affairs.
While senior advisers to the president and national policy advisers would receive no pay, the amendment states their numbers would remain the same.
Currently, there are 15 paid senior presidential advisers and another 15 non-paid. While 30 national policy advisers are paid, 60 are non-paid.
The president can also hire 15 military strategists. Some committee members proposed cutting that number to 10, but it was decided to leave the number unchanged.
Some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers opposed the formation of the advisory committees.
DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the amendments were aimed at augmenting President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) power, making him a “three-in-one overlord” by integrating the roles of president, premier and party chairman.
With any number of committees established under the Presidential Office, Ker said the Executive Yuan would become ineffectual.
“It is utterly unconstitutional,” Ker said.
“It is a serious matter and we are absolutely against it,” he said.
Ker said the legislature resolved in 2006 that the Presidential Office must dissolve all its advisory committees on the grounds that their establishment was illegal.
“Now they are using a corpse to resurrect a dead soul,” he said.
Ker said he suspected the KMT administration wanted to reinstall the National Unification Council, which “ceased to function” in 2006 under the administration of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said that re-establishing the council was not a priority at the moment, however, he emphasized that it was not up to him to decide and that he would convey Ker’s opinion to Ma.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the installation of a Rules and Regulations Commission was tailored to provide the Presidential Office with legal advise on former president Chen’s legal cases.
If one day Ma’s daughter had a hard time finding a suitable partner, Gao wondered whether a matchmaking committee would be set up to deal with the matter.
Gao said he was curious why Ma opposed the establishment of a cross-strait supervisory task force in the legislature, but he was in favor of setting up advisory committees under the Presidential Office.
KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) said it was unnecessary to establish advisory committees because the president was planning to have 120 advisers at his disposal. Wu’s opinion was echoed by KMT legislators Chiang Yi-hsiung (江義雄), Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) and Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠).
KMT Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福) proposed establishing a first lady’s office, but Chan said Chow Mei-ching (周美青) keeps a low profile and he thought such a setup was unnecessary. Currently, the Department of Special Affairs is in charge of Chow’s activities, Chan said.