Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) yesterday came under fire for what opposition lawmakers said was her serious contempt of the legislature, after she cited her ongoing 12-day visit to the UK to excuse herself from a scheduled legislative interpellation where new Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and his Cabinet tomorrow are to deliver a government performance report.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said that it was a constitutional obligation of the Executive Yuan to tender a government performance report to the Legislative Yuan and accept interpellation in late February.
“That is why it is common sense for Cabinet officials to avoid arranging any private schedules during that time of the month, and why Jiang has urged them to personally attend the interpellation unless they are away from the country due to major duty-related affairs,” Lee said.
Citing the itinerary for the last three days of Lung’s current visit, which began on Feb. 17 and will conclude on Thursday, Lee said that Lung planned to deliver a speech, titled “A Civil Society in the Making,” at the University of Cambridge tomorrow, before being interviewed by BBC World News.
“However, as none of these schedules are of a direct relationship to Lung’s duties as a cultural minister, her planned absence from the legislative interpellation is not only extremely inappropriate, but also constitutes to a serious contempt of the legislature,” Lee said.
Lung’s scheduled absence from the interpellation could further deteriorate her already rocky relationship with the legislature, sources said, particularly on the heels of her recent criticism of the legislature’s budget screening as a “banana republic” operation for drastically slashing the proposed budgets to her ministry by more than NT$700 million (US$23.61 million).
Singling out her previous overseas visits since being sworn in as culture minister on Feb. 17 last year, Lee said Lung had made several overseas business trips to countries including the US, Canada, Hong Kong and France in the past year alone.
“Lung has apparently turned these trips into an opportunity for her ‘one-woman show,’ as she only paid lip service [to cultural development] during these non-business-related trips without making real achievements,” Lee said, adding that Lung was also absent without official leave from a meeting of legislative committees in the previous legislative session.
The cultural minister should exercise restraint and engage in self-reflection when arranging future overseas travels, Lee added.