Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 3 News List

DPP mulls abolishment of State Affairs Forum

By Aaron Tu, Tseng Wei-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) legislative caucus is considering the abolishment of a segment in the legislative plenary session called the State Affairs Forum (國是論壇).

The one-hour forum takes place before each legislative session, with lawmakers drawing lots to decide who can speak. Each lawmaker is then accorded three minutes to speak on any topic.

However, critics said lawmakers have a tendency to use the forum to make sensational remarks to attract media attention.

DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said he supports the abolishment of the forum, adding that it made no sense for the premier and other heads of Cabinet agencies to waste time listening to legislators’ “diatribes.”

DPP caucus Legislative Reform Division convener Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said lawmakers use the forum to train their wits or hold prop-making competitions, adding that the caucus has come to a consensus that the forum is no longer meaningful.

New Power Party (NPP) caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said the NPP would support the DPP if the issue is put to a vote, adding that the forum has no practical effect in light of direct broadcast of the Legislative Yuan’s sessions.

“If the forum is abolished, the legislature might wish to consider devoting more time to the debates on the second reading of proposed acts,” Hsu said.

While Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) agreed that the forum lacked purpose and was in favor of its abolishment, KMT caucus Deputy Secretary-General Wang Yu-min (王育敏) said that it is still useful for other legislators.

The legislative sessions has more than enough time for the forum, Wang said, adding that if the forum is abolished and the legislature can find no better way to spend its time, it would deprive legislators of yet another channel to make their opinions known.

KMT Legislator Tseng Ming-tsung (曾銘宗) said that in the past, DPP lawmakers favored the forum, as it gave them an opportunity to voice their opinions on important issues, however, now that the DPP has achieved a legislative majority, it wants to abolish the forum.

People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) also criticized the DPP for wanting to abolish the forum after it gained a legislative majority.

It had never been broached when they were still in the minority, and now they wish to limit the methods smaller parties or the opposition can use to speak their mind, Chen said.

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