The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus’ failure to pass bills earmarked as priority legislature by the Executive Yuan in the recently concluded legislative session, despite having a nearly three-quarters majority in the legislature, has received a mixed reaction from political analysts.
Some blamed KMT headquarters, the party’s legislative caucus and the executive branch for a lack of synchronization, while others were unsurprised because in a democracy the legislative branch is not always at the executive branch’s back.
“The Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, KMT headquarters and the KMT caucus appeared to be four isolated entities failing to act together in the legislative process,” said Chen Chao-jian (陳朝建), an assistant professor of public affairs at Ming Chuan University.
On June 16, the legislature went into summer recess, having failed to pass nearly half of the 50 bills on the Cabinet’s priority list submitted when the session commenced in February.
In a last-minute push, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) singled out nine major bills before leaving for Central America on May 26. Only four had passed through the legislature by the end of the session.
Defending legislative efficiency, KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said the legislature completed review of 134 bills, “the highest number in a single session over the past seven years.”
Among the bills passed were an amendment to the Civil Code (民法) that tackles inherited debt and the enactment of the Act Governing Development of Renewable Energy (再生能源發展條例) setting up measures to encourage the generation of green energy.
Despite these, Chen said more bills could have been dealt with considering the KMT caucus’ majority in the legislature.
“Apparently, the KMT caucus did not make every effort to support the Presidential Office and Executive Yuan,” Chen said. “It should be a piece of cake for the KMT caucus to pass as many bills as the Executive Yuan wants.”
Another example was the amendment to the Act for the Punishment of Corruption (貪汙治罪條例).
The Executive Yuan’s original version suggested that all civil servants failing to explain the sources of their incomes should face prosecution. However, at the insistence of some KMT lawmakers, the revised act saw only officials indicted on corruption charges subject to the new rules.
Bills that were high priority for the Executive Yuan and ended up being stalled included one to streamline the structure of the government, one to attract multinationals to set up logistics centers in Taiwan, amendments to allow Chinese students to study in the country and another to prevent double taxation of Taiwanese businesses in China.
“The way KMT lawmakers performed was out of step with the administration. They didn’t think that the Executive Yuan’s priority bills were very urgent,” said Frank Liu (劉正山), an associate professor at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of Political Science.
Liu said the result showed no one at KMT headquarters capable of making lawmakers follow party orders, which was why Ma wanted the chairmanship.
Having lawmakers act in accord with what the Executive Yuan wants should be the responsibility of KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), but it seemed that Wu has been coordinating cooperation between the caucus and the executive half-heartedly, Liu said.