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Negotiations fail on legislative review of monitoring bill

2015/04/24 21:15:06

Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠)

Taipei, April 24 (CNA) Lawmakers across party lines failed Friday to reach consensus on sending a draft bill monitoring Taiwan's pacts with China to a legislative committee for review, meaning that further delays for the bill and for a controversial trade pact with China are inevitable.

Lawmakers were expected Friday to vote on a motion to reconsider sending the bill for review by the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee, more than a year after the bill was drafted to answer student protesters' calls for increased scrutinty of any agreements Taiwan signs with China.

However, negotiations between ruling and opposition lawmakers broke down over who from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT, 國民黨) might chair the review once the motion was voted down, as the ruling party and opposition camp vied for control of the review.

The debate centered on Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), a KMT lawmaker and convener of the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee, whose fast-tracking of the Taiwan-China trade-in-services agreement through his committee's review last March sparked mass protests and a 24-day occupation of the Legislature by student protesters.

The KMT said the negotiation broke down even though it made a concession by having KMT lawmaker Chiau Wen-yan (邱文彥) chair the review in place of Chang, who will serve as a nominal chair instead.

Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), the KMT's policy head, said the Taiwan Solidarity Union (台灣團結聯盟, TSU) insisted that the KMT give up its right to chair the review, which his party refused to do, leading to the failed negotiations.

Lai Chen-chang (賴振昌), a TSU caucus whip, told CNA that the KMT, driven by political calculation, is seeking control of the committee review.

Lai said his party is especially concerned that the KMT is allowing Chang to have a role in the review process, as he is not trusted by society, and will seek to block the procedures to express its opposition.

Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), a member of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP's, 民進黨) legislative caucus, said his party will do everything it can to oppose Chang's part in the review process.

The DPP also insists on an item-by-item review of the draft bill, Huang said.

Chang responded by describing the opposition against him as "prejudice."

He said that if he has the chance to chair the review, he will make sure the bill completes the review under the cross-party consensus that the draft bill be finished as soon as possible.

The monitoring bill was created at the height of the Sunflower Movement, which ended April 10 in 2014 after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) promised that negotiations in the Legislature on the trade-in-services pact will not begin until after the completion of the bill.

However, the bill has yet to enter a review by the Internal Administration Committee since the end of the movement, with the ruling and opposition lawmakers taking turns filing motions to reconsider the review to prevent the other camp from chairing it.

Lawmakers are scheduled to meet again April 28 to discuss the issue.

(By Tseng Ying-yu, Tai Ya-chen, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Scully Hsiao)