Fri, Jun 27, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Lawmakers bicker over pilot zones statute

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

A legislative joint committee meeting yesterday to review the free economic pilot zones draft bill ended with little substantive discussion and no resolution.

The three-week legislative extraordinary session entered its second week this week, which had originally been slated for the vetting process and final vote for Control Yuan nominees.

On Friday last week, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) motioned for reconsideration of the review, hoping to delay the vetting process to show their discontent with the choice of nominees, which it believes is skewed toward the ruling party.

On Tuesday, opposition lawmakers sought a delay by occupying the speaker’s podium. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus responded by changing the legislative agenda, saying that the legislative joint committee — composed of the internal administration, economics and finance committees — would resume the review of the pilot zones special statute.

At the joint committee meeting yesterday, lawmakers exchanged heated barbs over the legislative procedure and the content of the bill.

Opposition legislators railed against the inclusion of the pilot zones bill on the agenda for the extra legislative session, saying that the review of the controversial bill should not be rushed through.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安) said the KMT’s move to have the pilot zones bill reviewed was “merely a show” for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), who arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday for a four-day visit.

“The pilot zones [bill] has not even been passed, but we already have the room breakin incident because of the exchanges between the two countries,” DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said.

Yeh was referring to allegations by activists that authorities on Wednesday broke into their rooms at the Novotel Hotel, where a meeting between Taiwan’s and China’s top cross-strait affairs officials were to be held, and demanded that they vacate the rooms.

“I want to raise everybody’s attention to a fact that human rights were seriously violated after the arrival of a low-ranking Chinese official yesterday. What will happen when the pilot zones are actually launched?” she asked.

DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) questioned the absence of Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) at the legislative session and demanded that he be present for the meeting to commence.

While reviewing the pilot zones statute’s fourth clause which states that “the competent authority of this statute is the Ministry of Economic Affairs” — which was where the review left off the last time — DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) called into question the accountability gap that might arise because the authority planning the pilot zones policy and executing it are not the same.

“While the National Development Council is responsible for drawing up the plan, it is the Ministry of Economic Affairs that will be implementing it. This was not the case with the science parks,” he said.

Chen added that a comprehensive economic policy plan should be in place before planning for the pilot zones start.

“What we have now is carte blanche for the pilot zones, to be complemented by executive orders in the future,” he said.

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