Track record points to failure of reconciliation policy

ADVICE: The new premier must carve his own path since Frank Hsieh's `co-existence' effort with the pan-blue alliance failed to remove the legislative logjam, pundits say

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 3

The last legislative session ended with few accomplishments, suggesting the impracticability of the "reconciliation and co-existence" approach trumpeted by Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

Public anticipations were high when Hsieh took office last February, with many people hoping that his "reconciliation and co-existence" policy would ease political tension and usher in rapprochement with the opposition.

However, since the beginning of the sixth legislative term last February, a record low number of bills and government initiatives were passed in the first session and only 86 cleared the legislature during the recently concluded second session.

In addition, this year's government budget proposal suffered the biggest cut in a decade at the hands of pan-blue lawmakers, and a large portion was frozen.

When Yu Shyi-kun was premier, a total of 190 bills and government initiatives were passed during the first session of the fifth legislative term and 115 passed in the second session.

Yu, who was the third premier since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000, boasted that his team was the "combative Cabinet." He adopted a tougher stance toward the opposition parties.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip David Huang (黃適卓) said yesterday that Hsieh's "reconciliation and co-existence" approach not only failed to make any political breakthrough but also caused DPP supporters to fear that the party had departed from its basic principles.

"The strategy was unrealistic and ineffective," Huang said.

"It was not the right way to go and I hope the new Cabinet of Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will ditch this strategy because reconciliation with the opposition not only does not guarantee co-existence but invites insult," he said.

Even though a total of 86 bills or other items of legislative businesses were taken care of during the last legislative session, Huang said that most of the bills passed were either proposed by opposition parties or enacted or amended in such a way that they suited the opposition.

Taking the Organic Law of the National Communications Commission (國家通訊傳播委員會組織法) as an example, Huang said the law was a perfect model of legislative power encroaching on executive authority.

Although the administration had failed to stop the legislature from passing the law, the Executive Yuan launched a last-ditch effort last Friday by requesting the Council of Grand Justices to make a constitutional ruling on the legality of the commission law.

Huang said he would not encourage the new Cabinet to adopt a more belligerent approach toward the pan-blue alliance, saying that it has to stick to its own beliefs and put into practice the "effective management" policy announced by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in his New Year address.

"We'd like to see the new Cabinet continue, and facilitate, reform initiatives bearing Taiwan's interests in mind," Huang said.

Reform efforts, such as seeking to abolish the 18 percent preferential interest rate given to civil servants, teachers and military personnel must continue, he said, despite the opposition in the legislature.

The legislature resolved on Jan. 12 that a revised pension program for civil servants, teachers and military personnel must be postponed until the legislature gave it the go-ahead.

Minister of Civil Service Chu Wu-hsien (朱武獻) has said that the new pension rules will go into effect on Feb. 16 as scheduled, despite the legislative resolution and threats made against him.

As some KMT members have voiced displeasure over their party's knee-jerk opposition to government initiatives, Huang urged the DPP to seize the opportunity to solicit these people's support for certain bills.

"The DPP cannot pin its hope on KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) because he will no doubt continue the aggressive strategy that was pioneered by his predecessor Lien Chan (連戰), so the DPP's achievements will be only lackluster before the next presidential election," Huang said.

DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) said that the "reconciliation and co-existence" strategy was originally a good one but the KMT had intensified its effort to obstruct DPP legislation since last year's KMT chairmanship election and "three-in-one" local government elections.

As the pan-blue camp is unlikely to change its attitude, Su is bound to run into the same dilemma as his predecessors, he said.