Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Watchdog calls for legislative reform

‘IRREGULARITIES’:Citizen’s Congress Watch said that lawmakers should refrain from engaging in physical and verbal assaults as well as negotiations behind closed doors

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

In the wake of Taiwan being named as one of the countries whose legislatures “do not work for the people,” Citizen’s Congress Watch (CCW) yesterday called for reform to put an end to “irregularities” in the legislature.

The US-based Foreign Policy journal had on July 20 named Taiwan, along with the US and other countries, as nations whose legislatures do not work for the people

CCW member Chen Ming-li (陳明里) told a news conference at the legislature that he had observed at least five irregularities during the last legislative session.

First is “kickboxing,” Chen said, referring to serious physical clashes between lawmakers.

Second is “verbal conflict” and the third is “conquering the summit,” referring to lawmakers’ attempt to take over the legislative speaker’s seat to block the passage of certain bills, Chen said.

Fourth is “negotiations behind closed doors” and the fifth is “voting on bills without prior negotiation,” Chen said.

“We need a set of more up-to-date regulations on how the legislature should work and how lawmakers should behave,” Chen said. “For example, it has been nine years since the Legislators’ Conduct Act (立法委員行為法) was last amended, and it’s been 11 years since the Act to Prevent Conflict of Interest for Public Officials (公職人員利益衝突迴避法)” was passed.

CCW chairman Shih Hsin-min (施信民) said that although legislative meetings could now be seen online through the Legislative Yuan’s video-on-demand (VOD) system, “it’s still not transparent enough.”

While everyone can access the VOD system from home, viewers can only see what is on camera or hear whatever the microphones record.

“Out of eight permanent legislative committees, only three allow CCW to send observers,” Shih said.

“When the members of the seventh legislature were sworn in [in February 2008], many of them agreed in writing to CCW’s demand to push for legislative reforms, including guidelines on avoiding conflicts of interest, making donations, the legislative process and making negotiations more transparent,” Shih said.

“Unfortunately, most of the promises have not been fulfilled,” Shih said.

Chu Hei-yuan (瞿海源), a CCW member and a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology, suggested shrinking legislative electoral districts to prevent lawmakers from exercising too much power.

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