Liberty Times (LT): President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was “building a bridge” on which to normalize visits between leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Do you consider this “bridge” to be steady?
Wang Jin-pyng (王金平): Everyone has their own view on whether the “bridge” is steady. When I said to look on the bright side and not take everything negatively, I meant that one should endeavor to see the silver lining of a cloud and act upon it. As the saying goes: “To meet someone projects some sincerity” (見面三分情). Having established a precedent enables future leaders to follow suit when the need arises.
The majority of the public’s discontent stems from a lack of trust. People wish for more transparency in policymaking, want to make their opinions known and hope for their opinions to be acted on.
I think the only way the “bridge” could become more stable is to provide more public support, and this can be achieved through the full participation of the Legislative Yuan in all stages of the decisionmaking process, as the legislature is the embodiment of public will.
No matter which party is voted into the Presidential Office, the legislature must be a part of policymaking, or this “bridge” will forever live in the shadow of public distrust.
LT: Do you think that with the legislature’s participation, the interpretation of the so-called “1992 consensus” as the “one China” principle could have been avoided [in the Ma-Xi meeting] and thus resolved Taiwan’s internal confrontations?
Wang: Under normal circumstances in Taiwan, as long as one says the complete phrase — that “the 1992 consensus refers to to ‘one China, different interpretations’” — the majority of the public would not make too big a deal about it. However, if one departs from the complete description, there is no end to the commentary, as different interpretations of the “consensus” would be criticized and attacked. That is the way it is.
LT: How should the legislature be integrated into the decisionmaking process? What measures should be set up?
Wang: The legislature’s participation in decisionmaking processes is not just a matter of human participation, but also of systemic integration.
The “cross-strait affairs division” I proposed in the past is a part of that systemic integration.
Cross-strait issues are unique and have always been controversial to the Taiwanese public, but if it is possible to establish a platform and to provide a legal basis through which the legislature can participate and oversee the process, it would not only clarify the roles of the executive and legislative branches, but also allow for the public to demand due responsibilities from the respective branches of the government.
However, that is not to say that the issue of public distrust would be instantaneously solved after the system is set up. The rebuilding of trust is dependent on the attitude of those in power. Take US President Barack Obama’s reinstating of diplomatic ties with Cuba, for example. For the entire initial phase of that process, Obama had kept the US secretary of state and the head of US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations completely in the dark.
In short, the system is designed to be followed and implemented by people within the system, but without the system, the legislature has no capability to implement oversight powers over the administrative power of the government.