Legislators who never served as caucus whips cannot fully comprehend what actually takes place when the ruling and opposition parties meet to discuss issues, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday, following remarks by a former legislator that highlighted a lack of public trust in the legislative branch.
“A lot of time is wasted going over every little detail of proposals, time that could be saved if we hashed things out in the ruling and opposition party meetings prior to meeting in the legislature,” Wang said.
Only those who have been caucus whips know the importance and necessity of the system for ruling and opposition parties to meet and discuss their differences, Wang said, adding that the meetings were open to all legislators.
On Wednesday, Su Chi (蘇起), a former National Security Council secretary-general and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator who is now a professor at Tamkang University, said Taiwan’s young democracy was facing a bottleneck, as its executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as media, lacked well-established systems and environments that encourage innovation and initiative.
Su said that “democratic development has come to a bottleneck,” as it faces the problems of excessive social liberalization made “chaotic” by a failure to complement new measures with corresponding regulations and guidelines.
The country has opened up too quickly, a reaction to Taiwan’s authoritarian background, he said.
In response to a repressive past, universities, media and banks mushroomed, but such institutes soon lost their direction in vicious competitions. However, “under the flag of liberalization, no one dares to question” the pace of the opening, he said in a keynote speech at a conference to commemorate the late legal scholar Chiu Hungdah (丘宏達).
Su said most Taiwanese do not trust public institutes.
Citing data presented by Larry Diamond, a prominent US academic on democracy studies, at a conference on May 14, he said more than 60 percent of Taiwanese regarded democracy positively in 2010, but less than 50 percent had confidence in public institutes.
In Diamond’s survey, only 19.11 percent of respondents said they trust the legislature, 14.1 percent trust political parties, 29.7 percent trust courts and 22 percent trust media.
Diamond’s data for the period between 2001 and September 2010 indicated a continual decline of trust, Su said.
Administration, legislation, the judiciary and media are Taiwan’s “four powers,” but none of them employs a system that has developed to its fullest potential, he said.
Many political appointees in the executive branch are bureaucrats, whom he described as conservative and without the spirit of innovation and the courage to defend their policies.
Against such a backdrop, Taiwan can hardly make breakthroughs regarding foreign trade, Su said.
As for the legislative branch, it passed an average of 100 bills a year when former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in power from 2000 through 2008. While the number has grown slightly to 160 per year under the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration, the number is far less than the 1,000 plus bills passed annually in South Korea, he said.
Taiwan has transformed itself “from an autocracy to a democracy, and from a closed society to a globalized one” over the past decades, but its legal revisions have been conducted at a snail’s pace, he said, warning outdated laws would slow the nation’s progress.