Legislators wonder about Ma’s silence

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Feb 06, 2013 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday said they were speculating about why President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has stayed silent on the controversial Cabinet reshuffle, but instead has been vocal about how to handle drunk-driving violations.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) confirmed yesterday that Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, had telephoned him and said he hoped Hsieh would propose tighter regulations on drunk driving. The proposed new regulations would lower the allowable blood-alcohol limit from the current 0.55 milligrams of alcohol per liter to 0.25 milligrams, as detected in breath tests, and violators would be subject to preventive detention, Hsieh said.

While many drunk-driving and hit-and-run cases had infuriated the public and justified the urgency in taking further measures against these crimes, DPP lawmaker Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said, it was “hypocritical” of Ma to give personal instructions on these matters, while remaining silent on the Cabinet reshuffle.

Huang was referring to a press release issued on Thursday last week by the Presidential Office that confirmed the reshuffle, which saw Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) succeeding outgoing Premier Sean Chen (陳冲). However, the press release quoted unnamed “high-ranking party officials” — not Ma, who has the constitutional right to appoint the premier — as the source of confirmation.

Ma has not responded to critics’ queries about the press release.

Huang said it was not right for Ma to keep mum on the Cabinet reshuffle, while taking a lead role in combating drunk driving.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that if Ma was serious about fighting drunk driving, he should not have asked a lawmaker to propose amendments.

Due process should have the Ministry of Transportation and Communications establish a professional panel for studying the appropriate standard before making an amendment proposal, Tsai said.

Some have argued that preventive detention, which would subject all drunken drivers to an automatic 24-hour detention, would be unconstitutional.