The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus last Wednesday threw out proposals submitted by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators on the grounds that they would “interfere with government policies” and “squander money,” according to the first-ever recording of a Procedure Committee meeting.
The legislature last month gave the green light to an amendment proposed by the opposition parties demanding that meetings of the Procedure Committee be recorded and broadcast to promote transparency, which the opposition said would deter the governing party from continuing to block their legislative proposals.
Despite the new amendment, six bills proposed by opposition parties in the first meeting after the amendment were blocked by the majority KMT.
“The KMT caucus appeared to be the ‘imperial guard’ of the Legislative Yuan,” Citizen Congress Watch said on Sunday, adding that the party should respect public opinion and stop arbitrarily rejecting opposition proposals.
Citizen’s Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) lashed out at the KMT caucus for blocking the proposed bills during the agenda-setting phase, saying the move was disrespectful to the legislators who represent a segments of society with different views and that even a legislative majority did not entitle the KMT to dismiss people’s concerns.
Chang said the committee should stipulate detailed regulations to resolve the problem and urged the KMT caucus to at least cite “a more convincing reason” the next time it wants to block a proposed bill.
“Since the KMT caucus holds the majority of seats in all the legislative committees, even if proposals by opposition parties were to be listed in the legislative agenda, the majority party could still cast out any unfavorable proposals through legal procedures or by voting against during legislative sittings,” Chang said.
Chang said Taiwan was the only democratic country that would allow the majority party to block bills proposed by other legislators during procedural committee meetings because this gave the committee greater executive power than a sitting of the full legislature.
DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) also criticized the KMT’s moves during the meeting, saying they showed that the KMT has no regard for public opinion and does whatever it pleases.
“The KMT caucus smothers all proposals that are unfavorable to the party, taking away any opportunities for public debate and examination, as if it is the ‘boss during the Martial Law era,’” Ker said.
People First Party (PFP) caucus convener Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said no other party could prevent the KMT caucus from blocking a bill at any legislative stage since the KMT holds a majority.
The KMT caucus has long been blocking proposals during meetings of the Procedure Committee, Lee said, adding that conflicts between the governing party and the opposition parties would continue in its future meetings.
Commenting on the efficacy of recording such meetings, Lee said the approach could bring about changes to the unbalanced situation in legislature, because more transparency would enable the public to assess and remark on the KMT caucus.
In response, KMT Policy Committee Director Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said the party caucus only blocked proposals that were deemed “highly disputed,” because the party advocates prioritizing policies and does not want to see ideologically based proposals rejected only after protracted deliberation, keeping other proposals concerning people’s livelihood from being passed.