Newly appointed Premier Mao Chih-kuo (毛治國) and his Cabinet fought their first battle as they fielded a barrage of questions from lawmakers yesterday at the Legislative Yuan, after first being blocked by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislators’ occupation of the legislative speaker’s podium for an hour.
The new premier’s policy address took place only after the three TSU lawmakers — who occupied the presentation rostrum in protest over the signing of the Information Technology Agreement, for which the TSU said there had been a lack of in-depth deliberation and which should be postponed — had been removed by their Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) colleagues from the rostrum.
The premier said that the government would seriously reflect on criticisms and opinions from the public.
“We will search for consensus and undertake conversations with all sectors on controversial policies,” he said referring to the cross-strait agreement oversight mechanism bill currently stalled in the legislature.
The importance of the online community, mainly inhabited by the younger generation and the negligence of which has been considered one cause of the KMT’s rout in the recent election, was also emphasized in Mao’s policy address.
“The government needs to understand public opinion from both the outside and the virtual world, and also find a way to connect the two,” Mao said.
Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) possible medical parole and Ting Hsin International Group’s (頂新國際集團) plan to sell its stake in Taipei Financial Center Corp (TFCC, 台北金融大樓公司), the firm that operates Taipei 101, were two issues brought up during the question-and-answer session.
To Democratic Progressive Party legislators Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) and Chiu Yi-ying’s (邱議瑩) questions about Chen’s medical parole, Mao only said he would respect the experts’ opinions.
Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said there does not exist “a set schedule” for processing Chen’s application, but stressed that more examinations would be made by an expanded medical team.
Chiu cast doubts on the difficulty of granting Chen medical parole, saying that various prominent political figures, including Wu Tse-yuan (伍澤元), Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英) and Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who all were either KMT members or had close relationships with the KMT, were all granted medical parole for relatively minor conditions or symptoms.
Luo denied accusations of political bias and insisted that Chen’s symptoms were different from those cited.
On Ting Hsin’s selling of Taipei 101 shares to a foreign corporation suspected to have received Chinese investment, TSU Legislator Yeh Chin-ling (葉津鈴) stressed there were precedents in the US, the UK and Australia in which the selling of significant landmarks were rejected by respective governments and called on the government to safeguard “Taiwan’s national dignity.”
TSU Legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安) said there is no reason that the government could not intervene in the case and added that the deputy director-general of the National Security Bureau is a member of the Ministry of Economic Affair’s Investment Commission, the organization that is to review the sale.
“If Ting Hsin were a US company, it would have had been bankrupt due to all the lawsuits filed against it. It is just amazing that in Taiwan, this black-hearted company can still earn money by selling its shares in 101,” Chou said.
Mao and new Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said they respected the judgement of the commission, with Mao stressing that the public’s expectations would definitely be taken into account.
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