The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would hold a disciplinary meeting this week, KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said yesterday. The move comes following a vote in the legislature on Friday in which the opposition parties almost mustered enough votes to pass a motion banning the import of US beef, despite the KMT holding a majority of legislative seats.
The resolution, a joint effort by the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party, called for the government to remove US beef from the shelves of local stores, place imported US beef under customs seal and temporarily ban US beef because of the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, commonly called mad cow disease), in accordance with Article 5-7 of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures adopted by WTO members.
During the first round of voting on Friday, KMT legislators Yang Ying-hsiung (楊應雄) and Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) abstained, though they voted against the resolution in the second round after coming under pressure from KMT caucus whips to toe the party line. Another three KMT lawmakers — Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), Lin Chang-min (林滄敏) and Lo Shu-lei (羅淑雷) — also abstained from voting in the second round.
Lin Chang-min said that although he disapproved of the pan-green camp’s “surprise attacks” in introducing the resolution, there were legitimate reasons to ban imports of US beef given that the US had recorded a new case of mad cow disease.
Lin Chang-min said that he abstained from voting out of a belief that public health is an issue of paramount importance and that he felt it was his responsibility first and foremost to defend the interests of Taiwanese.
Lo said that prior to the party’s priority mobilization, the KMT caucus had not been informed what the vote would be about, adding that it was only after the session started that she realized the vote was on a resolution to ban the import of US beef.
Lo said she abstained because she did not know how to articulate her concern over the subject in such a short span of time.
As to a KMT caucus regulation that imposes fines on lawmakers who fail to cooperate with a caucus priority mobilization order, Lo said she was happy to pay the fine if her actions contributed to heightening public awareness over the issue.
According to Lin Hung-chih, failure to comply with a priority mobilization order can result in a fine of NT$10,000 (US$340), but he also said that no fine had been imposed since the previous legislative term.
Meanwhile, Ting said that he abstained because he had family matters to take care of in the morning and when he arrived at the Legislative Yuan, he met with an official from CPC Corp. By the time he returned to the legislative session, the second round of voting had already started and he had no idea what was being voted on so he abstained, Ting said.
KMT legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環), who was absent from Friday’s session, said she had absented herself because she opposed leanness-enhancing additive-laced US beef, even more so after the case of mad cow disease, and would have had to vote in favor had she attended.
“I had already told the caucus group that I favored zero tolerance for leanness-enhancing additives laced beef,” Yang said, adding that “we should not import poisoned things for people to eat, because who are they going to blame if they get sick years later after we allow imports?”
Two other KMT legislators who abstained from voting were Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) and Ma Wen-jun (馬文君). They said they arrived late to the session and were about to vote when the voting concluded.
Lin Hung-chih said KMT lawmakers declining to cooperate with the party whips was a warning sign.
“We will launch an internal review next week to uphold party discipline and ensure party unity,” he said, adding that the caucus needed better discipline and unity otherwise it would be unable to defend the people’s rights and push through the policies of the government.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
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