Fri, Jan 18, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers agree to begin next session on Feb. 15

LAST-MINUTE BUSINESS:The legislative caucuses failed to agree on when to deal with proposals on child abuse prevention by the NPP amid heated debate in the media

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Premier Su Tseng-chang, second row left, listens to a briefing at Taiwan Cooperative Bank headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The legislative caucuses yesterday agreed to ask Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to give an administrative report at the legislature on Feb. 15, when the next legislative session begins.

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday held a round of cross-caucus negotiations to decide the date for Su Tseng-chang’s first administrative report after he took office as premier on Monday.

The caucuses also discussed a motion tendered by the New Power Party (NPP) to hold a second extraordinary session so that Su Tseng-chang could report to the legislature and to review bills aimed at protecting minors against abuse in the wake of a series of child abuse scandals.

Citing the Act Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法), which stipulates that a newly inaugurated premier should deliver a report to the legislature within two weeks of inauguration, NPP caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said that Su Tseng-chang should give a report by the end of this month during the proposed extraordinary session.

Child abuse incidents have drawn much media attention and addressing the subject before the Lunar New Year would show the public that lawmakers care deeply about the issue, NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.

However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), citing “custom,” said that the regular legislative session ended on Friday last week, so Su Tseng-chang should give his report after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) raised concerns about the NPP’s proposal, saying that it would leave lawmakers with insufficient time for a question-and-answer session with Su Tseng-chang.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general John Wu (吳志揚) then proposed to have Su Tseng-chang give an ad hoc report on improving child abuse prevention, after which he could answer lawmakers’ questions.

Hsu agreed with that proposal, but it was rejected by Ker, who said that Hsu had been vacillating as the meeting progressed.

Instead of acting on heated media debates, lawmakers should reflect on why they allow so many bills to fall into limbo after public discussions die down, he said.

Lawmakers could not possibly finish reviewing all 30 bills by the end of this month, DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said, adding that lawmakers should not bring forward the review just to satisfy the public’s desire to “try” the child abusers.

Huang then proposed advancing the next legislative session to Feb. 12.

However, Su Jia-chyuan said that dozens of lawmakers across party lines plan to travel abroad this month and next month, and might not be able to attend a plenary session.

Su Jia-chyuan then told caucus executives that he would represent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at a celebration on Feb. 19 in Saint Lucia to mark the 40th anniversary of the Caribbean diplomatic ally’s independence.

The four caucuses eventually settled on Feb. 15 both as the start of the next legislative session and as the date for the premier’s administrative report.

Tseng suggested advancing all bills related to raising punishments for child abusers that are under preliminary review to cross-caucus negotiations and a second review, saying that it would greatly expedite the process.

However, the suggestion was not adopted and no conclusion on how to deal with the proposed amendments was reached.

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