Sat, Mar 05, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Legislator wants children in chamber

DAYCARE:Allowing children under three in the general assembly while in session would set an example for private business, lawmakers in support of a proposal said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Karen Yu (余宛如) on Thursday proposed that lawmakers be allowed to bring children under the age of three into the legislative chamber, triggering a mixed reaction from her colleagues, as well as government officials.

DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) tabled an extemporaneous motion yesterday in response to Yu’s proposal, demanding that the Legislative Yuan set up a daycare center for all parents working in the Legislative Yuan compound, including staff, journalists, lawmakers and their assistants.

Tuan said the Legislative Yuan should develop into a “friendly workplace,” and it should carry out childcare policies that the government has urged private businesses to follow based on the Act of Gender Equality in Employment (性別平等法), and set an example and reduce discrimination.

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) immediately voiced her support for Tuan’s proposal.

Tuan’s motion was a friendly response to Yu, a DPP legislator-at-large who made the amendment proposal that has since stirred debate both in the legislature and on the Internet.

The regulations governing the legislative general assembly chamber states that no one other than chamber staff and government officials and their assistants are allowed into the general assembly chamber. Yu has proposed amending the regulations to exempt lawmakers and officials “with children under three who need care and breastfeeding” from the rule.

Her draft amendment was supported in signature by more than a dozen lawmakers — including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) and New Power Party Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal — and passed the first reading yesterday.

Yu made her first appearance in the Legislative Yuan on Feb. 1, when the first session of the new legislature convened, with her six-month-old child and said it was a pity that she could not bring her child into the chamber.

“This proposal is not for myself, as I have my family’s support in childcare, but what is on my mind is a presumption that the reason that there are so many double-income families who are not planning to have children is not only because of financial pressure, but also the conflicting nature between the working environment and childcare,” Yu said.

“Insofar as the Legislative Yuan is a highly symbolic institution, it should, in my opinion, hold an open attitude [to the measure],” Yu added.

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said lawmakers’ proposals reflect society’s different perspectives and would be reviewed by the legislative committee.

“Taiwan is a democratic country and surely the issue could be put into discussion. And it would be up to the legislature for a final decision on whether it is okay” to bring children under three into the chamber, Su said, adding that he would remain neutral in the debate.

However, not everyone is supportive of the idea.

Premier Simon Chang (張善政) said it would be “strange” to bring infants or toddlers to the chamber.

“Imagine you have small children crying or [people] breastfeeding when officials and lawmakers are in the middle of a question-and-answer session. It is strange,” he said.

“I think [Yu’s] idea is really about a childcare mechanism [in the Legislative Yuan], which can be done now, rather than bringing them into the general assembly chamber,” Chang added.

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