The legislature’s Internal Administration Committee yesterday voted to put Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) Minister Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) on the committee’s “unwelcome” list and urged the Executive Yuan to suspend her administrative duties in Aboriginal and Hakka affairs.
The committee made the decisions after Lo, who doubles as a minister without portfolio, engaged in verbal disputes with several members of the committee because she insisted she was attending the committee meeting as MTAC minister and refused to answer any question that was unrelated to Mongolian and Tibetan issues.
The dispute began on May 8, when Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅), an Atayal Aborigine, asked Lo questions about Aboriginal autonomy.
In her capacity as a minister without portfolio, Lo is in charge of ethnic affairs, including participating in the drafting of the Aboriginal autonomy bill.
At the time, Lo refused to take the question, saying she was attending the meeting as MTAC minister and exchanged angry words with Chin.
The fight continued yesterday.
“You just answered a question about the birth rate in Taiwan, which is not an issue under the MTAC, but rather the Ministry of the Interior’s business,” Chin said as soon as she took the podium, referring to a question that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) had asked earlier.
“I was very upset and dissatisfied with your attitude last time.Someone from a dominant ethnic group should never call someone from a disadvantaged group a ‘chauvinist’; this is not something that someone with a good education should do,” Chin said.
Lo replied there were also birth rate issues among Mongolians and Tibetans living in Taiwan, making the question the ministry’s responsibility.
“But Chi was asking about birth rate issues for the general public, not for Mongolians or Tibetans living in Taiwan,” Chin said.
“Well, when Mongolians and Tibetans live in Taiwan, they are also members of the general public,” Lo said.
Chin followed up with questions related to Aboriginal issues, to which Lo said she did not have the answers or would not answer because the issues were not the ministry’s business.
“If you don’t know, you should say you don’t know,” Chin said. “It’s ridiculous that Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) would appoint someone who is so unfamiliar with Aboriginal affairs to be in charge of Aboriginal issues.”
Chin then asked committee staffers to read out loud Article 25 of the Act on Exercise of Legislative Power (立法院職權行使法), which stipulates that an official questioned by a lawmaker in a legislative meeting “shall not refuse to answer unless when it may pose an instant threat to diplomacy or national defense, or when it involves information that shall be confidential according to the law.”
“I still cannot answer it, I’m here as MTAC minister, the question [on Aboriginal autonomy] is unrelated to the MTAC’s business,” Lo said.
The answer triggered anger from other lawmakers.
“You are the MTAC minister, but you are also a minister without portfolio [in charge of Aboriginal issues],” shouted KMT Legislator Jeng Tian-tsair (鄭天財), an Amis Aborigine. “If you don’t want to take the question, you should quit this job.”
“You don’t know anything about Aborigines,” shouted KMT Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明), a Paiwan Aborigine.