President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expressed hope on Thursday that the Legislative Yuan would quickly review and pass major bills crucial to economic and trade development during a second extra legislative session scheduled for July 28.
Ma issued the call at a tea reception at the Presidential Office for the heads of all five branches of the government — the executive, legislative, judicial, control and examination branches.
The routine reception attracted media attention this year, as it comes after the legislature went into recess without a vote on Ma’s list of 29 nominees to the Control Yuan.
In addition, it was the last such meeting before the current six-year terms of the control and examination branches are set to expire in late July and late August respectively.
During Thursday’s reception, Ma said that numerous bills were stalled by the three-week-long student-led occupation of the Legislative Yuan that started on March 18 and which led to the extra legislative session that was held between June 13 and Friday last week, that was intended for the review of Control Yuan nominees and interim regulations governing elderly farmers’ welfare allowances.
However, since what he described as “an opposition blockade” kept the legislature from voting on the nominations on Friday last week, the legislature decided to hold a second extra session, Ma said.
Ma said that if the Control Yuan continues to be left idle, it will constitute a violation of the Constitution.
Ma said he hopes the legislators will proceed quickly with major bills, including draft bills on proposed free economic pilot zones, legislation for overseeing cross-strait negotiations and the cross-strait trade-in-services agreement.
Claiming that public support for the service trade pact has surged since March, Ma said this shows that people understand that the bill is of great importance for the nation’s development.
Saying that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) agreed with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul last week to sign a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA) by the end of the year, Ma said that the pact will have an immediate impact on Taiwan, just like a US-South Korea FTA that took effect two years ago, which has significantly affected Taiwan’s exports.
Ma said that 70 percent of Taiwan’s economic growth relies on foreign trade and that a considerably high portion of the nation’s exports overlap those of South Korea.
This nation cannot prevent the trade pacts South Korea signs with other countries from affecting exports, meaning that the only way for Taiwan to bolster its own trade is to sign economic cooperation and free-trade deals with its trade partners, according to the president.
The tea reception was first held in May 2009 and is held twice each year.
The last gathering was held in late November last year, but Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) did not attend, as he was attending his brother’s funeral.
That meeting occured during the height of a political squabble between Ma and Wang, as the president was trying to oust Wang as speaker over allegations of illegal influence peddling.
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