Failing to force a vote on the upcoming electricity price rises on the legislative floor yesterday, an opposition lawmaker has initiated a campaign to defer electricity payment as a show of protest to urge the government to reconsider the policy.
“When the government refuses to listen to the people, the people have the legitimate right to exert resistance. I myself will definitely be doing that,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) said.
Liu, along with other DPP lawmakers, called a press conference after the DPP caucus’ demand — supported by the People First Party (PFP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union — for a vote on the planned increase in the electricity tariff was not accepted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
The deadlock over the issue forced the legislature to lie idle throughout the day, with dozens of placards placed on council tables and on the ground saying: “No freeze on electricity rates, no meeting” and DPP lawmakers occupying the podium while chanting: “Freezing electricity rates, feeling the pain of ordinary people” at intervals every few hours.
Under the government’s plan, electricity prices will be raised in three stages by an average of 16.9 percent for households, 30 percent for commercial establishments and 35 percent for industrial users.
Forty percent of the total adjustment will be implemented on June 10, another 40 percent on Dec. 10, while the date for the remaining 20 percent will depend on whether the public is satisfied with state-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) reform efforts.
Based on Article 20 of the Administrative Act of State-owned Enterprises (國營事業管理法), the opposition has demanded the government not go ahead with the policy without legislative consent, in a resolution drafted by the PFP on April 20.
The article stipulates that the rate charged by public utilities must be calculated according to a formula prepared either by the state-owned enterprise or the relevant government department and that any changes to such a formula needs to be approved by the legislature.
“We have the legitimate right to ask for a floor vote on the policy because it’s now well past the prescribed one-month period for negotiation,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.
DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said the KMT did not dare to vote on the policy because polls showed that more than 70 percent of the people were against it.
KMT caucus whip Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said the party “severely condemned” the DPP for its behavior, saying that the boycott was a waste of public money.
The DPP caucus has repeatedly used boycotts to paralyze the normal operation of the legislature at both the committee level and in plenary sessions, Hsu said.
“Staging a boycott is a step backward for the nation’s democracy. We hope that people will all condemn the DPP,” he said.