Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Pundits give legislature a failing grade

BOTCHED REFORM:Reducing the size of the legislature was supposed to improve the system, but it marginalized smaller parties and encouraged partisanship, a forum heard

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The performance of the recently concluded seventh Legislative Yuan showed that a Chinese Nationalist Party-dominated (KMT) political scene in the past four years had failed to bring fruitful results to Taiwanese, analysts told a forum in Taipei yesterday.

The choice of voters to give the KMT consecutive landslide wins in the legislative elections in January 2008 and the presidential election two months later was a “bold gamble,” Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗), a researcher at Taiwan Brain Trust, told the forum organized by the think tank about the legislature’s performance.

The KMT won 81 of 113 legislative seats, while President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) won 58 percent of the total votes in the presidential election.

However, the gamble did not pay off because the public had to pay the price of lack of checks and balances in government, instead of enjoying the efficiency and achievement of single-party dominance, Lo said.

Legislators trimmed just 0.007 percent from the 2012 central government budget, he said, a clear sign that it has failed to do its job because government agencies are known for inflating their budgets.

A total of 624 pieces of legislation were passed in four years in the session that ended on Dec. 14, with an annual average of 156, and some of those passed were highly controversial, such as the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) and the Judges’ Act (法官法), said Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華) of the Citizen Congress Watch.

“The seventh legislature has been disappointing compared with previous legislatures in terms of quality and quantity of legislation screening,” Ku said, adding that each legislator is receiving a monthly salary of NT$180,000 and research fee of NT$500,000 to do more than what they did.

“The biggest problem for the legislature now is that it is not a domain for discussions of public policies, but a legislative bureau of the KMT,” Ku said.

People had great expectations after the electoral system underwent significant changes in 2007, with the introduction of the “single-district, two votes” system, and the number of lawmakers was dramatically trimmed from 225 to 113, which was expected to improve legislative efficiency and professionalism.

However, the results have been almost completely the opposite of what had been promised, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said.

However, the new system marginalized smaller parties, encouraged partisanship and dramatically increased the power of each legislator, Lin said.

Lin has proposed a two-phase overhaul aimed at improving legislative efficiency and changing the legislative electoral system. The proposal has been approved by the DPP as its main demand to appeal for voter support in next month’s legislative elections.

While the DPP may have to review why it supported the move to halve the number of lawmakers, it deserved recognition for its effort in drafting a number of bills, most of which were later blocked by the KMT in committees.

Experience shows that legislative reform cannot be achieved until the KMT loses its status as the majority party, Lin said.

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