Citizen’s Congress Watch (CCW) yesterday criticized an agreement to amend the Accounting Act (會計法) taken through cross-party negotiations behind closed doors — saying such practices harmed democracy — as it called on lawmakers to outlaw these practices.
“If only a few people representing each political party’s caucus decide on the revision of a law, then what do we need the legislature for?” CCW board member and National Chengchi University sociology professor Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華) asked at a press conference held at the legislature in Taipei. “The legislature could be demolished and replaced with a small meeting room.”
Ku was referring to the legislature’s surprise adoption of an amendment to the Accounting Act late on Friday last week which was supposed to exempt research grants given by the government to professors and elected officials’ special allowances from being audited, although it was later found to be flawed.
As a result, former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who has been in jail since Feb. 19 after he was handed a three-and-a-half-year sentence for using nearly NT$20 million (US$670,000) of taxpayers’ money to visit nightclubs, and other councilors facing similar charges will be released when the act takes effect.
The revision to the Act created an uproar, not only because of its content, but also because it took only 11 lawmakers — Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and senior lawmakers from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the People First Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union caucuses — to agree to it in an inter-caucus negotiation.
Immediately following the passage of the amendment, several DPP lawmakers protested, saying that they were not consulted and disagreed with the revision.
“Legislation was enacted in 1999 to regulate cross-party negotiations and the law states that all cross-party negotiations must be recorded on video and a record published in legislative gazettes,” CCW executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) said. “We urge the legislature to make public the video of the cross-party negotiation of the Accounting Act amendment and if there is no such video, someone must be held responsible.”