Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday defended the use of cross-party negotiations, which are often criticized for being non-transparent, as a necessary tool with a legal basis to facilitate political communication.
“Cross-party negotiation is actually regulated by Article 68 of the Act Governing the Exercise of Legislative Power (立法院職權行使法), and, while many people call it ‘secret chamber negotiation,’ there are actually quite a lot of people in the ‘secret chamber’ when a cross-party negotiation takes place,” Ker said during a talk with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) at an event for National Hsinchu Senior High School alumni. Both men are alumni of the school.
Ker said that when cross-party negotiations take place, the legislative speaker, the three whips from each caucus and the relevant government officials are present, and “sometimes there can be between 30 and 40 people attending a cross-party negotiation session.”
He said that negotiations over a bill could go on for more than a year, and it is a test whether opposition parties can work with the ruling party.
“If you do not ‘give face’ to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), why would it give you anything?” he said. “So do not stigmatize the system. It is a very difficult mission to have everyone sign on the conclusion.”
Ko agreed with Ko, saying that without negotiations under the table, the student occupation of the Yuan’s main chamber last year or of the Ministry of Education’s courtyard this month would have dragged on and could have intensified.
“Many people criticized me for not punishing the police chief [who arrested student protesters and journalists], but I had to try to keep officers calm,” Ko said. “In turn, I also talked the students into withdrawing before the typhoon struck.”
“This is a way to keep the two sides safe, and this is the importance of negotiations,” Ko said.
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