The legislature is once again operational and lawmakers met yesterday for the first plenary session in more than three weeks after a student-led occupation ended on Thursday night.
Before the brief meeting was adjourned, legislators of the ruling and opposition parties agreed to refer to committees the nomination of a new state prosecutor-general and a proposed bill on closer oversight of cross-strait agreements.
Seven different versions of the new legislation, including one each from the administration and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), are to be reviewed soon by the Internal Administration Committee.
The nomination of Yen Ta-ho (顏大和) as the successor to former prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) is to be jointly reviewed by the Internal Administration Committee and the Judicial and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
The floor session called by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday morning lasted about seven minutes, but signified a step forward for legislators seeking to resume parliamentary duties.
Hundreds of demonstrators occupied the legislature’s main chamber from March 18 until Thursday in protest against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement, which forced the cancelation of plenary sessions for the duration of the action.
Wang yesterday thanked the public for their understanding and support and said he hopes everyone can put aside their differences and be more tolerant of each other.
Wang also reiterated that taxpayer money would not be used to restore or repair the legislative buildings.
Later yesterday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said it would hold a public hearing on Monday during the Internal Administration Committee meeting to discuss the proposed cross-strait agreements oversight bill.
However, the DPP said that it has motioned for a reconsideration of the bill, thereby canceling the bill’s referral to the committee.
KMT deputy caucus whip Wang Ting-son (王廷升) and Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the procedure was legitimate and said that the DPP should not boycott the public hearing.
They told a press conference that the KMT is “to hold the public hearing following legal regulations and responding to the people’s demands.”
“The resolution of the cross-party negotiation, announced earlier this morning on the legislative floor, clearly stated that the oversight draft bills are to be ‘immediately’ referred to the committee for review,” Wu said.
KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) is to convene the Internal Administration Committee meeting on Monday.
“It doesn’t matter whether it was the [students’] demand to complete the institutionalization of the oversight mechanism before the review of the service trade agreement or [President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)] initiating legislation and a review simultaneously, both would agree that the legislative process needs to begin as soon as possible,” Wu said, adding that it is currently “the greatest common denominator” in the controversy.
When asked whether the KMT would, after Monday’s public hearing for the oversight bill, again place the service trade agreement on the agenda for Wednesday or Thursday’s Internal Administration Committee meetings, Wu replied that urban renewal would be the focus of the Wednesday meeting and that Thursday’s agenda “has not been confirmed.”