President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) decision that the Executive Yuan must invoke a constitutional clause to address the recently revised Accounting Act (會計法) has put Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) in an awkward position, legislators said yesterday.
Jiang has been proven “an incapable administrator” and the way he has dealt with the issue has shown that he is “inconsistent” and “indecisive,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said.
DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) added that Jiang “must have felt hard done by” when Ma overruled his position on the issue overnight.
“It’s not Jiang’s problem, but a problem for anyone on Ma’s team, because of Ma’s flip-flop style of decisionmaking,” Lin said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) described Ma’s U-turn on the issue as akin to “Ma slapping Jiang in the face,” adding that the decision had dealt “a big blow to Jiang’s credibility.”
Ma could have refrained from “causing Jiang embarrassment” because there are other ways to tackle the flaws in the controversial amendment, KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said.
“One of the ways was for the legislature to amend the Accounting Act again,” Lu said.
The amendment was supposed to exempt professors and elected officials from being charged for irregularities in reimbursement for grants given by the government.
However, since the words “teaching [faculty]” were missing from the amendment, academics might still face persecution.
Jiang attributed the missing words to a “typographical error.”
Since the amendment cleared the legislature on May 31, Jiang repeatedly said that he would not invoke the reconsideration right because he said the typographical error had no bearing on its application to academics.
The Executive Yuan respects lawmakers’ decision to decriminalize special fund abuses involving elected officials, Jiang added.
Amid a public outcry, Ma offered an apology to the public at a press conference at the Presidential Office on Friday after he decided at an earlier meeting with Jiang and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) that the Executive Yuan would issue a reconsideration order for the legislature to nullify the amendment.
Jiang did not respond to media queries for a comment on his decision being rejected by Ma.
Separately yesterday, Wang brushed off calls for Jiang to step down over the issue and said the legislature does not need to apologize for passing the amendment.
The reason Ma proposed for the amendment to be reversed was because the public found it unacceptable, not because the legislature and the Executive Yuan had done something illegal, Wang said.
Commenting on the issue, Chang Lin-cheng (張麟徵), an honorary professor in the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University, said it was “inappropriate” for Ma to call that press conference and instruct Jiang to exert the reconsideration right.
The way Ma handled the case was inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution that the “Executive Yuan shall be responsible to the legislature,” Chang said.
Ma could have advised Jiang to make the request to the legislature in private instead of calling the press conference, she said.
National Sun Yat-sen University political science professor Liao Da-chi (廖達琪) expressed a different view, saying that Ma was entitled by the Constitution to call a meeting of the heads of the legislature and the Executive Yuan to settle the dispute between the two organs.
Given that the legislature and the Executive Yuan seemed to shirk their responsibilities in responding to the public’s expectations that the amendment be reversed, it was not unconstitutional for Ma to step in, Liao said.