Citizen’s Congress Watch (CCW) yesterday said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman — was responsible for the paralysis in the Legislative Yuan, urging the ruling party to put aside the controversial beef amendment to allow other bills to be reviewed.
Since Monday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators have filibustered the legislative session in a bid to prevent the KMT from passing amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that would allow US beef containing residues of the leanness enhancing livestock feed additive ractopamine into Taiwan.
While KMT lawmakers have condemned the opposition parties for stalling the legislature, CCW said it was the KMT — more specifically Ma — who should be held responsible.
“Since the beginning of the legislative session [in February], only 11 bills have been passed, making this session one of the least productive in Taiwan’s history,” CCW executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) told a news conference. “One of the reasons is that Ma is trying to push through too many controversial bills — such as increasing utility prices and lifting the ban on US beef imports [with ractopamine residues] — after winning his re-election to the presidency in January.”
He said that according to opinion polls, as many as 60 percent of the public are worried about the health threat that ractopamine poses, and some KMT lawmakers have also expressed such worries, though they have been ordered by Ma to support the relaxation of the ban in the legislature.
“The regular session ends [yesterday], but there may be provisional legislative sessions,” Chang said. “The CCW urges lawmakers to put aside controversial bills, and look at other bills first in the extraordinary session.”
On the KMT’s criticism that the DPP is wasting taxpayers’ money by stalling the bills, Chang said that filibustering legislative meetings is a way to protest controversial issues when the ruling party holds a majority.
“Filibustering is a tactic practiced in many other countries. I don’t think it’s inappropriate unless violent means are used,” Chang said.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has been pushing the bill on the grounds that allowing the imports is key to resuming important trade talks with the US and ensuring that Taiwan remains competitive.
Because some KMT lawmakers are calling on the government to relax the ban on ractopamine through an executive order, the Homemakers’ United Foundation secretary-general Lu Mei-luan (呂美鸞) reminded the government to follow the proper procedure stipulated in the Executive Procedures Act (行政程序法).
“An executive order is not something that the executive branch of the government can produce whenever it likes,” she said.
“According to the law, there is a procedure to follow, the government should explain to the public why and what it wants to achieve through the executive order, and organize public hearings so that people can express different opinions,” she said.