The legislature should make its standing committees hold a meeting every day and make sure legislators sign in for the committee meetings both in the morning and in the afternoon to prevent absenteeism, Citizen Congress Watch said on Sunday.
Despite the commencement of the Eighth Legislature last month, standing committees were already scheduling meetings at a rate of one every two days, or even one every three days, with legislators only needing to sign in to meetings once, said the watchdog, a civic group that oversees the legislature by publishing evaluation reports to provide transparency in legislative affairs.
Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee convener Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said that while the committees did not violate the legislature’s parliamentary procedural regulations, it was cause for some tongue-wagging.
However, Tsai also said that with the legislature currently in session and with the elections over, there was a lower chance of legislators having to make the rounds, adding that the legislature respected the group’s recommendations.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator and Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee convener Mark Chen (陳唐山) said that if standing committees scheduled meetings every two or three days, it was because they were accustomed to doing so.
He added that with a different environment and a change in the electoral system, he was not adverse to having a meeting every day if other legislators agreed.
As for signing in both in the morning and in the afternoon, Chen said most legislators sign in to speak in the morning, then hurry off to tend to their constituents.
From the viewpoint of legislators from central and southern Taiwan, signing in twice a day “might be somewhat redundant,” Chen said.
Aside from making appearances, committee members’ speaking and voting records are also important, Chen added.
Using the recent leanness-enhancing agent issue as an example, Chen said opinions expressed by lawmakers in their votes on the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) should also be made public.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) said that attendance rates were only one method of seeing if a legislator was active or not, and that signing in and questioning policies were not enough.
Legislators should continue to provide data to back up their case and propose legal amendments, she said.
If there was no continuous tracking of an issue, it would only be “doing things by half,” she added.
People First Party caucus convener Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said the standard for evaluating each legislator should focus on the quality, not quantity, of work.
Institutionalizing the Legislative Yuan and signing in both in the morning and afternoon is completely unnecessary, Lee said, adding that the amount of meetings should be based on what legal acts and statutes are being proposed.
If legislators could push through one or two bills that really matter, then that is more important than anything else, Lee said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer