Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said that the legislature would put each item in the cross-strait service trade agreement to a separate vote rather than vote on the pact as a whole.
Wang was responding to the Mainland Affairs Council’s statement given to lawmakers on Tuesday that told them the legislature can either ratify or abrogate the agreement, but that it cannot alter any of its provisions.
That statement sharply contrasted remarks made by Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), who said the government would “respect” the legislature’s decision.
Contacted for a comment, council spokesperson Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅) yesterday said that the statement was simply aimed at explaining to lawmakers “how agreements of a similar nature were dealt with by the legislature in the past.”
“We will still respect whatever decision the legislature makes on the agreement,” she said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) have demanded that the agreement only take effect after the legislature ratifies it in such a way that each of its 24 articles and sector-specific commitments are voted on separately.
At a meeting to resolve the legislative deadlock on Tuesday, the Executive Yuan and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus agreed to the DPP and TSU’s demand in exchange for the review of a number of bills before the end of the extra session today.
However, in its statement, the council said it would not mandate the Straits Exchange Foundation to notify China of the effective date of the agreement until the legislature finishes its review, despite the fact legislative approval is not required.
Given the lack of legislative rules governing the procedure under which cross-strait agreements are reviewed, the legislature should follow precedent whereby similar agreements were voted on as a whole, the statement said, citing the Protocol of Accession to the WTO, the four free-trade agreements signed with diplomatic allies, the Economic Cooperative Framework Agreement (ECFA) and the Cross-strait Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights.
Lawmakers were not convinced by the council’s argument.
DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said the council was in no position to dictate how the legislature should review the agreement.
“It’s absurd that Wang Yu-chi came up with the statement. Did he think that he has the authority to exercise the right of legal interpretation?” Pan asked.
Meanwhile, Wu said yesterday if the legislature rejects any of the provisions in the service trade agreement it would in effect be abrogating the entire agreement.