Because of a boycott by opposition parties, Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) was unable to deliver his policy address to the legislature yesterday, marking the first time in the nation’s history that a premier has failed to fulfill the constitutional obligation within the prescribed time limit.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) designated Chen as premier a day before his inauguration for a second term on May 20, with Chen taking the oath of office the next day.
As stipulated in Article 3 of the Constitution and Article 16 of the Act Governing the Exercise of the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法), Chen must deliver his policy address to the legislature within two weeks of his swearing-in.
Yesterday was the final day the premier could do so.
Lawmakers previously agreed to have Chen present his policy address on the legislative floor, followed by a question-and-answer session for the premier with lawmakers yesterday, but the session ended up suspended.
Gathering in front of the podium in the legislature, lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan Solidarity Union and People First Party demanded that Chen apologize for what they said was an ever-changing policy of imposing a capital gains tax on securities transactions and the confusion and disorder that have resulted.
The opposition lawmakers also called for Chen to respond to their demands over a spate of controversial policies, ranging from a plan to conditionally relax an import ban on US beef containing residues of the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine and the impending increase in electricity rates on June 10.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) adjourned the meeting after the opposition lawmakers refused to back away from their boycott and allowed Chen and other Cabinet officials to leave the legislature at about noon.
Wang told reporters that the DPP insisted on the boycott because it planned to initiate a no-confidence motion against Chen on June 15, the last day of the legislative session.
DPP legislative caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) was surprised at Wang’s revelation of the plan because the party had kept the date it would initiate the motion a secret.
Later yesterday, Wang proposed that Chen fulfill his constitutional obligation by having his written policy address recorded in the Legislative Yuan Gazette as an alternative to the standard of verbally presenting the policy address, but the opposition rejected the suggestion.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) condemned the opposition lawmakers for the boycott, saying their action constituted a violation of the Constitution.
DPP Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) refuted the accusation, saying that the act of boycotting the premier’s policy address was within the permissible range of the law.