New diverse legislature may lead to long-lasting standoffs in Taiwan

The China Post news staff

Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng decided to give all newly elected lawmakers one more week off so that they may discuss and eventually make a decision on when to go back to work for the people who voted them into the legislature. After being sworn in, the 113 legislators are supposed to start reviewing the many bills piled up in the Legislative Yuan.

But inter-party consultations on a date to open a new legislative session broke down again yesterday

Instead of helping set a date to set the legislative programs in motion, the five lawmakers of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) demanded that the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), which won 64 seats on Jan. 14, make a promise of not using its majority advantage to shelve any bills to be proposed by the opposition parties.

TSU Legislator Hsu Chung-shin said all of the opposition camp’s bills forwarded to the Procedure Committee should not be held up. Hsu said his party will take part in discussing on an opening date for a new legislative session only after the KMT gives consent to their request. KMT Legislator Lin Hung-chih said opening the legislative session and presenting legislative bills are two separate and entirely unrelated issues. Lin said he is in no position to provide any guarantee because lawmakers on the Procedure Committee are unlikely to let bills that may unreasonably cost taxpayers’ money or harm their interests to coast through the legislative procedure. Constitutionally, legislators are required to work for the people and deliberate on bills and regulation amendments during the legislative session in the period between February and May before the long summer break. Lawmakers should not take the lead to violate the nation’s Constitution as the month of February is almost gone, Lin said. All employees throughout Taiwan have returned to their work and even elementary school children have now returned to schools after the Lunar New Year holidays.

Only Taiwan’s lawmakers, who all draw exceptionally high salaries, are still idling. Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang said he will not call another inter-party consultation meeting until next Thursday. Wang said if the lawmakers fail again to set a working date after taking one more week off, he will consider calling a vote by all legislators to decide on a date to open the new legislative session. Long-term observers of Taiwan politics said they expect the efficiency of ratifying and revising regulations by the lawmakers could worsen further since two more smaller political parties now can easily block and stall the legislative programs.