Sat, May 05, 2012 - Page 3 News List

KMT blocks further US beef debate

MAD COW DISEASE:The KMT party caucus met before the vote to ensure there was no repeat of last Friday’s tied vote, but 12 lawmakers still declined to cast a vote

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Legislators from the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party, back row, hold up signs and call on the government to take imported US beef off the shelves and to stop imports, while legislators from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the front row hold up signs protesting against any change in the legislative agenda in the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday once again employed procedural delaying tactics in the legislature to block discussion of possible countermeasures to be taken against imports of US beef amid fears associated with the discovery of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease) in the US on April 24.

“[We oppose] changing the order of items on the agenda,” KMT lawmakers shouted, as the opposition parties sought the inclusion of a motion to review a draft resolution aimed at banning imports and sales of US beef until the conclusion of an epidemiological study on the most recent case of mad cow disease.

The motion — supported by the People First Party, the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union caucuses — was voted down 50 to 44.

When the vote was held, the opposition lawmakers shouted back, “safeguard public health,” “ban [feed additive] ractopamine” and “ban mad cow beef,” calling on the KMT to “side with the people” in its handling of the US beef issue.

This was the second time the opposition parties have tried and failed to have the draft resolution included on the legislative agenda.

The proposal calls on the government to order the removal of US beef from stores, to place imported US beef under customs seal and to temporarily ban imports of US beef and beef products.

On Friday last week, 16 KMT lawmakers chose to risk disciplinary action rather than vote against the opposition as instructed by the KMT whips.

As a result, the vote ended in a tie, which was only broken by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) casting a “no” vote.

The KMT called a party caucus meeting before the vote to ensure that all caucus members would attend the session and vote along party lines, but 12 KMT lawmakers still declined to vote.

KMT Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環), one of the absentees, said she had her own views about the US beef issue and had not been persuaded to vote in support of party policy.

Absent from the vote on Friday last week, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) yesterday voted against the opposition parties’ proposal for “procedural reasons.”

“The opposition parties always try to ambush us and demand changes in the order of items on the legislative agenda. They were playing politics,” she said.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties failed in an attempt to amend the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法) out of committee and send the bill directly for a second reading.

The amendment calls for the revision of Article 70 to allow the recall of a president within the first year of inauguration, which is currently not allowed.

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