The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday occupied the podium during the opening of the legislative session, saying that the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic demanded an apology.
KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) and others stood in the middle of the hall holding signs and shouting slogans saying that the government’s processing of vaccine compensation claims was slow and that there were “shady deals” behind the procurement of vaccines.
The administration lacked transparency in its purchase of COVID-19 vaccines early in the pandemic and disparaged the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Charity Foundation, which had purchased vaccines to donate for public use, Tseng said.
Photo: Liao Chen-hui, Taipei Times
People who were harmed by COVID-19 vaccines also had no recourse for compensation, he said.
“More than 10,000 people in Taiwan have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic started,” he said. “Where is the administration’s apology?”
At about 11am after occupying the podium for about an hour, Tseng said that the KMT had reached a consensus with other parties following negotiations called by Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫?).
The KMT legislators vacated the podium, but due to time constraints, Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) policy report scheduled for 10am was put off until a remedial session on Tuesday, with only additional agenda items discussed yesterday.
In an agreement signed with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), the KMT demanded that Su apologize to the families of those who died from COVID-19 or from a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.
It also demanded that the Ministry of Health and Welfare increase the number of personnel processing applications from people seeking compensation after a harmful reaction to a vaccine, as well as a simplified and expedited review process for those seeking COVID-19-related relief funds, with reports submitted to the legislature every six months about compensation claims.
The rules stipulate that meetings of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program be convened under the ministry’s supervision, with claims to be completed within six months of submission.
In the event that more time is required, the review period can be extended once for no longer than three months.
The New Power Party, which did not sign the deal, objected to putting off Su’s policy address and asked for a vote.
However, the vote also backed rescheduling the address.
In a statement released following the session, the KMT said that although it reached an agreement with the DPP and the TPP on its pandemic-related demands, it would continue to supervise the administration, and would hold Su and the ministry accountable.
Additional reporting by CNA
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