The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday withdrew from the provisional legislative session called to review the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing after the legislature ruled to allow the agreement to skip a committee review.
DPP legislators chanted “democracy has already died, the public needs to save Taiwan” as they walked off the legislative floor after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers voted down their own caucus’ proposal to reconsider Thursday’s decision.
PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP
The KMT caucus’ move yesterday was part of its strategy to push the ECFA through the one-month negotiation period, and thereby prevent the DPP caucus, which alleged Thursday’s procedure was flawed, from filing a reconsideration proposal of Thursday’s ruling later. If the DPP caucus filed a reconsideration proposal, it would have changed the end date of the one-month period.
Legislative procedures allow any bill or proposal referred to cross-party negotiation to be put on hold for up to one month. As the result of the KMT caucus' move yesterday, it means the earliest the legislature could pass the ECFA is Aug. 8, when the one-month period ends.
On Thursday, despite lawmakers throwing objects, splashing water, pushing and shoving, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) announced he would adopt the KMT caucus’ motion to allow the ECFA and a cross-strait copyright protection agreement to skip the preliminary review.
The DPP caucus later challenged Wang’s announcement, with DPP Secretary-General Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) saying the speaker had failed to call for a vote even though the DPP caucus voiced opposition to the KMT caucus’ motion.
Wang stood by his decision when asked for comment yesterday.
“As the speaker standing on the podium, I did not hear anyone express his or her opposition [to the motion]. [In fact], I could not hear anything at all because of the chaos in front of me,” Wang said. “If I had heard something, I would have dealt with [the opposition] in accordance with legislative procedures.”
DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) said that the DPP caucus’ boycott occured because the two sides could not reach common ground on the review of the ECFA.
The DPP caucus wants a clause-by-clause review of the agreement with votes on every single article while the KMT caucus wants a single vote for the entire ECFA package.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said earlier in the week that an individual review was unnecessary and would compromise Taiwan’s ability to negotiate free-trade agreements with other countries.
Chai said Ma’s comments showed the legislature has already lost its autonomy. He said the legislative process had been interrupted by Ma.
“The rest of the session will be the KMT’s one-party show,” Lee said.
The provisional legislative session is scheduled to run till Wednesday.
The DPP will continue to supervise relevant developments from outside the legislative system, he said, meaning through civic groups, public opinions and possibly demonstrations.
While KMT caucus secretary--general Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) accused the DPP of “lying” about its promise to be the gatekeeper for the public during the ECFA review, the DPP caucus said its decision to boycott was done with the full support of DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Newly elected DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that if the trade pact was reviewed as a package, it would set a -dangerous precedent for future cross-strait agreements because lawmakers would lose their authority to alter the content of such deals.
Tsai told reporters she was concerned that the review would not address many of the public concerns that have been raised over the agreement.
“The attitude by the KMT doesn’t leave any room for the concerns of either the opposition party or members of the public worried about the ECFA,” she said.
Thursday’s brawl was regrettable, she said, but it occurred because DPP lawmakers were not able to “reasonablely discuss and review” the trade agreement because of the government’s interference.
The DPP caucus is expected to spend their time away from the provisional session in town hall meetings nationwide.
The meetings are expected to focus on the ECFA’s potential impact on Taiwan.
DPP lawmakers say the trade pact will impact the unemployment rate and damage fragile industries through an influx of cheaper Chinese goods. The KMT government says that claim has been blown out of proportion.
At a separate setting yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called for a “gentleman movement” in the legislature.
He expressed regret over Thursday’s clash, and urged legislators to exercise self-restraint on the legislative floor.
“Maybe we should promote the gentleman movement in the legislature, and help our legislators act more maturely, so that the legislative matters will run more smoothly,” Ma said.
Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) condemned the DPP for using violence in the legislative session, and urged Tsai to review the behavior of her party’s lawmakers.
“Tsai has repeatedly pledged to rationally oversee the government’s performance, and it is time to stop using violence. We hope Tsai will take the necessary actions against party members who cause violence,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH
TWO REPORTS: The body called on EU states to support the meaningful participation of Taiwan in international organizations, as well as closer cooperation with the nation The European Parliament has backed deepening ties with Taiwan and voiced concern about heightened tension across the Taiwan Strait in reports on two major security policies, which include a passage denying that Taiwan is subordinate to China. The parliament adopted the annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in a vote of 338 in favor, 86 against and 122 abstentions during a plenary session from Monday to yesterday. It also passed the annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defense Policy in a vote of 350 in favor, 91 against and 96 abstentions. “Neither Taiwan
NEVER FORGET: Feb. 28 is a day to demand justice and redress, and remember the long, hard road Taiwanese walked to democracy, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che said President-elect William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said he would work to safeguard the nation’s security and democracy to ensure freedom and economic prosperity, and that the tragic events of the 228 Incident “never happen in Taiwan again.” The Incident refers to the indiscriminate killing of a person in a crowd on Feb. 27, 1947, and the gunning down by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of protesters at a resulting demonstration the next day. It was followed by a brutal crackdown. Estimates of the number of eventual deaths vary from 10,000 to more than 30,000. The Incident was closely followed by the White
CRITICAL COMPONENTS: The tail was shielded because ‘enemy forces’ could estimate its speed and acoustic fingerprint by observing the propellers, an analyst said The nation’s first domestically built submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (海鯤號), yesterday was transferred to a dry dock for final harbor acceptance tests. The prototype has been undergoing harbor acceptance tests at the factory of shipbuilder CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船) in Kaohsiung since October last year after an unveiling ceremony in late September. On Monday evening, the prototype was towed from the CSBC factory to nearby Jong Shyn floating dock No. 8 and then transferred to a nearby dry dock, where the final tests were being conducted. As the submarine was being moved out of the factory to the floating dock, a large
NATIONALITY ACT: The draft amendments include a new provision that allows guardians of children who are stateless to apply for nationality on their behalf The Cabinet yesterday approved draft amendments to the Nationality Act (國籍法) to ease residency requirements for some foreign professionals applying for naturalization and to allow social welfare agencies to apply for naturalization on behalf of stateless children who are residents. The proposed amendments were approved by the Cabinet in September last year, but had to be reapproved and resubmitted because of the new legislative term that began on Feb. 1. The Ministry of the Interior said that the draft amendments would help improve the retention of professional talent by cutting the required period of residency for “foreign high-level professionals” (外國高級專業人才) applying for