Site for gov’t transparency wins bipartisan backing

The China Post news staff

With backing from lawmakers of various political persuasions, a nongovernmental organization yesterday launched a new website devoted to making the inner workings of lawmaking bodies more transparent.

Emphasizing the need to acquaint people with lawmaking processes and agendas and “keep them in the know,” Kao Su-Po (高思博), executive director of corporate body the 21st Century Foundation (二十一世紀基金會), described Pocket Congress(口袋國會網站), the new website the foundation launched yesterday, as providing a roadmap for the supervision of the Legislature. The Pocket Congress website, like a pocket book, will keep people posted on the Legislature’s agenda and the statuses of various bills, Kao was quoted as saying.

Visitors to the website will figure out which legislator is “genuinely hardworking” and can avoid judging the performance of lawmakers “on the basis of their subjective values,” Kao noted.

The former government official under a Kuomintang administration might have been obliquely criticizing Citizen Congress Watch (CCW, 公民國會監督聯盟), a nongovernmental organization that has been evaluating the performance of legislators since its 2007 founding and is currently the leading voice in the unofficial supervision of the country’s lawmaking bodies.

Meanwhile, CCW, widely seen as a “green-leaning” organization after its frequent unfavorable comparison of KMT lawmakers to legislators from the pan-green camp, published its evaluation of the transparency of local councils yesterday.

Justifying the need for a new watchdog website when there are already others, Kao said the Legislature is frequently “abuzz with activity but short on the proper approaches.”

The launch of the Pocket Congress website is thus seen as an attempt by people close to the ruling KMT to eclipse the CCW in its role as a watchdog organization, especially when several legislators from the pan-blue camp have expressed their support for the new website.

Speaking at the website launch, Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑), a KMT member and a lawmaker, said without naming names “certain organizations give legislators high marks only if they act in accordance with their agenda.” This is “improper,” he concluded.

A lawmaker from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), however, also indirectly criticized CCW which, according to media reports, has frequently thumbed its nose at legislators, thinking it wields a big stick in its role as a watchdog organization.

“I do not agree with a certain organization’s use of ‘quantifiables’ as the only criteria for evaluating the performance of lawmakers, because it distorts a legislator’s approach and perspectives,” Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) said at the website launch, adding that she was pleased with the launch of a new online platform that would make the performance of lawmakers publicly visible.