Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday called for the Legislative Yuan and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to immediately take steps to empower the legislature with the power to investigate and to hold legally binding hearings.
In the wake of controversies surrounding students’ attendance at a legislative committee meeting, the lawmakers urged the legislature to ensure citizens’ right to attend all legislative meetings.
“The legislature’s right to investigate, which includes document requests, holding legally binding hearings and compulsory testimony, is imperative for the legislature to safeguard justice and seek the truth behind potential corruption and wrongdoing,” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.
“Limiting lawmakers’ power is not the way to go. Legislative power should be maximized,” Chen said.
Citing the example of the alleged corruption involved in the staging of the two-day rock musical Dreamers (夢想家), which cost more than NT$215 million (US$7.38 million) as part of the Republic of China’s centennial celebrations last year, Chen said the absence of the right to investigate has kept lawmakers from finding out the truth, which was why Wang, as the legislative speaker, should seek to empower the legislature with the right to investigate and hold hearings as well as to enforce a charge of contempt of the legislature.
“The unique design of the separation of powers in Taiwan’s Constitution assigns the right to investigate to the Control Yuan. However, the Control Yuan has been malfunctioning,” DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said.
This has made the legislature “a toothless tiger,” he added.
Turning to the topic of the controversy over student protesters’ attendance at a legislative committee meeting on Monday at the invitation of DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), convener of the meeting — an invitation Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers and some media outlets have said was illegal — the DPP caucus reiterated the legality of the practice according to Article 67 of the Constitution.
Interpretation No. 461 of the Council of Grand Justices states that the legislature is allowed to invite citizens to attend the legislature’s meetings and assist with legislative proceedings, the caucus added.
A student was blasted by KMT lawmakers and a media outlet for his behavior after he told Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) at the meeting on Monday that he was not qualified for the job, while Cheng was criticized for turning the committee meeting into a “private courtroom” for the students to “grill” Chiang.
Chen yesterday said that eight different committees had invited private citizens to legislative committee meetings, adding that since the Legislative Yuan received its mandate from the public, it would be “ridiculous” to prohibit the public from entering the legislature.
The limitation of lawmakers’ rights and attempts to politicize the student protesters’ attendance possibly stems from the KMT’s aversion to hearing the true voice of the people, Cheng said.
“The aftermath of the meeting — the distortion of what really occurred and the oppression of the students — has proved once again that some people still live in the Martial Law period,” she added.