Mon, Nov 30, 2015 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Consensus calls for legislative reform: Wang

The Legislative Yuan should always be included in the decisionmaking process when it comes to cross-strait policies, regardless of which political party is voted into the Presidential Office, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said in an interview with staff reporter Tzou Jiing-wen of the ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’), adding that the legislature’s exclusion from such processes would only deepen distrust among the public

The committee hearing system is vastly different than the current questioning system. Transcripts from the questioning system cannot be used as the basis for the discussion of issues, and officials can evade controversial topics or refuse to provide policy information.

However, by legalizing committee hearing procedures, we could use legislative hearings to pull transcripts and other materials and call for individuals to answer questions, effectively forcing executive and legislative branches to focus on a policy’s content, thus returning to professionalism.

LT: What will legalizing committee hearing procedures do to change the current situation?

Wang: Take the cross-strait service trade accord for example. The public was distrustful of the choices given to them, which were drafted by the executive branch, while the nation’s political parties were also divided.

If the Legislative Yuan had a healthy system allowing for committee hearings, it could have forced the executive branch to provide specific and detailed data to be discussed by the committees and the public to achieve a consensus.

The important part is that the process through which such a consensus was arrived at would have been completely transparent and would have allowed for direct participation by the public. There would have been no worries about having unfavorable policies forcibly approved by political parties with a majority in the legislature, or that groups could lobby a few committee members and control the legislation’s fate.

Over the past few years, cross-strait policies have failed to garner majority support and doubts over the policies have caused a significant waste of national resources.

If the Legislative Yuan had a cross-strait affairs division and was given the power to hold committee hearings, it would then be able provide viable solutions to solve standing conflicts and, more importantly, allow the public to participate in the decisionmaking process.

Our democracy must have the capability to reach a consensus to avoid having a system that becomes an excuse over which political parties fight, which in essence would turn the Legislative Yuan into a rubber stamp body. This is something the public will not agree to.

LT: If this is the case, why has nothing been done in that regard for all these years?

Wang: I have on multiple occasions tried to stress the importance of the committee hearing system in the legislature since the Judicial Yuan’s Council of Grand Justices released Constitutional Interpretation No. 585 in December last year, and I have said that developed democratic countries, regardless of whether they use a Cabinet system, a presidential system or a semi-presidential system, have all elected to use a committee hearing system.

However, over the past decade, amid the transfers of power between the Democratic Progressive Party and the KMT, both have passively refused to implement the committee hearing system, due perhaps to convenience for the government. Their representatives have even refused to show up at my consulting sessions, effectively grinding the system’s implementation to a halt.

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