Legislators split over priorities for new session

By Su Fang-ho and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Sep 03, 2013 - Page 3

Legislators gathered in Taipei yesterday for the new legislative session, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) still at odds over which issues should top the agenda.

Aside from the various budget reports for fiscal 2014 that central government agencies will be sending to the legislature for review, a proposed public referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, ratification of the cross-strait service trade agreement and proposed amendments to civil servants’ pension are among the top issues on list.

The referendum proposal, which was initiated by KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) and co-signed by more than 30 other KMT lawmakers, seeks the public’s opinion on the issue with the question: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational (你是否同意核四廠停止興建不得運轉)?”

Taiwan and China signed the service trade agreement in late June, but KMT lawmakers’ move to push its ratification through the last legislative session was thwarted by opposition from the DPP lawmakers.

The DPP, for its part, has placed proposed amendments to the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) at the top of its agenda and warned the KMT against refusing to negotiate the issue.

“No deal on land justice, no legislative session,” the DPP said.

The amendments were proposed in light of the forced demolition of civilian houses in Dapu Borough (大埔), Miaoli County, to make way for the expansion of the Hsinchu Science Park in Jhunan Township (竹南) as well as the way the county government handled the matter.

The DPP also intends to propose an amendment to the Electricity Act (電業法) in the wake of the impending power rate hikes next month. The party says it hopes the amendment would lead to a better environment conducive to the development of green energy.

The DPP says the amendment highlights how the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has shown a complete disinterest in seeking alternative energy sources and this would become one of the key elements in the party’s call to halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said the referendum on the power plant and the ratification of the trade agreement were already on the list for legislative review, and it was just a matter of when they would be reviewed.

Everything would have to wait until Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) has finished his report, Lin said, adding that the soonest the Legislative Yuan could attend to the issues would be in early November.

Responding to the DPP’s warning about the land expropriation act, he said the KMT respected the DPP’s right to table motions for legislative amendments, but the Legislative Yuan does not have to dance to the DPP’s tune.

The DPP said in response that the premier might not be able to take the podium to finish his report — which could be taken as a warning of another legislative boycott or a blockade similar to what happened in the last extra legislative session.