DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday accused New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a vocal critic of under-the-table negotiations, of orchestrating such negotiations.
Ker said on Facebook that the NPP had “branded institutionalized and legal cross-caucus negotiations as ‘clandestine negotiations’” when running in the legislative elections in January, but the party has been attending such negotiations, convened by Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), since it was elected to the legislature.
While the NPP denounced cross-caucus negotiations as a private mechanism run by Ker and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator and former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Huang sought a private meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in October over amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
However, Huang was critical of the president and the DPP over the proposed labor legislation after the meeting, a “trick” that sabotaged understanding between the NPP and the DPP, Ker said.
“Huang is an expert [in under-the-table dealings]. During the Sunflower movement, the media reported that Huang arranged a secret meeting with former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑), and attempted to arrange a private meeting with Wang, but failed,” Ker said, questioning whether Huang also sought to meet with Su in private.
Ker defended the legitimacy of cross-caucus negotiations, saying that the mechanism was established in 1999 when a set of legislative organizational and procedural regulations were implemented to ensure equal opportunities for minority parties.
Negotiations are attended by all caucuses and agreements have to be signed by three top officials of each, leaving little room for manipulation by a handful of politicians, Ker said.
However, the NPP, as a campaign strategy, has criticized the mechanism and described Ker as dictating the negotiations, Ker said.
“It is the NPP’s strategy to achieve something immoral with mudslinging, attacks and lies,” he said.
Huang said he would not comment on Ker’s remarks, as lawmakers have to devote time and effort to their work.
The public has a negative impression of cross-caucus negotiations, which were responsible for the confusion in amending the Accounting Act (會計法) in 2013, so the public voted for an open and transparent government this year, Huang said.
Huang denied accusations that he attempted to arrange a private meeting with Su, but said he asked Ker to speak with Tsai about her meeting with Huang.
The NPP planned to hold a seminar on cross-caucus negotiations after the last legislative session, but the party had to cancel, because Ker refused to participate, Huang said.
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