The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been calling high-level meetings on various issues in a bid to make sure that the government and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) keep pace with each other, but the practice has drawn mixed reactions from DPP lawmakers, with some calling for “normalizing” government affairs after passing through the first bumpy stage in power.
The government has five main policy communication platforms: the Executive Yuan and Legislative Yuan policy coordination meeting on Monday evenings; Tsai’s meeting with Premier Lin Chuan (林全) on Wednesday mornings, followed by Tsai presiding over the DPP Standing Committee meeting in the afternoon; a lunch meeting between Lin and DPP lawmakers on Thursday; and the DPP caucus meeting on Friday.
Tsai also held an “integration meeting” with top Executive Yuan officials, the legislative speaker and deputy speaker, the DPP caucus convener and heads of special municipalities on Sept. 4, a week before the Legislative Yuan opened, and held a similar meeting two weeks later.
DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said Tsai invited lawmakers to discuss some issues, and included the heads of special municipalities and made the discussion of national issues a regular item on the meeting’s agenda.
Ker said he believes this made policy implementation more comprehensive.
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said party-government coordination meetings used to be more political and the function has been taken over by the lunch meeting between the premier and the lawmakers, adding that discussions related to policy and legislation are now held during the Executive Yuan and Legislative Yuan coordination meeting.
A channel to exchange views between the premier and the party caucus is necessary, as the premier no longer attends the DPP’s Standing Committee meeting, Chen said, adding that this is a more nuanced way of division of labor in communication.
DPP caucus director-general Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said efficient communication is required by the government.
He said that even if a decision is made during communication, differences could emerge when it comes to implementation.
“The number of meetings is not the problem, as the most important part is implementing the decisions,” he said.
The goals and functions of the meetings differ, so that their functions do not overlap, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said, adding that the policies discussed during the meetings are mostly outlined by government bodies, where lawmakers voice the public’s opinions.
Mutual understanding could be achieved with more dialogue to iron out the differences, she said.
However, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the period highlighted by the differences should be waded through quickly and the government should be allowed to return to its normal structure.
“Policy implementation could only flourish only after each government agency returns to their autonomous state. If the government agencies cannot keep up with the ruling party and have problems working on their own,” then the people heading them might need to be replaced, she said.
Kuan also said that if the nation is burdened by too many such meetings, the “power route” would be obscured and the decisionmaking process would become confusing, which would lead to inaction and conservatism in government agencies.
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