Opposition lawmakers' occupation of the legislative speaker's seat to block a vote on a government bill to lift a ban on imports of U.S. beef containing ractopamine has been roundly denounced by a wide sector of society. We must point out that the legislative speaker, whose duty it is to maintain legislative order, has failed to do his job.
The Legislature is established for "legislation by political parties," so its function can be divided into two areas: "political party operation" and "legislative operation."
It is the legal duty of the legislative speaker to "maintain order while handling legislative affairs." Failing to carry out that duty of course means a breach of duty.
When legislators of the ruling Kuomintang and opposition Democratic Progressive Party failed to reach a consensus on passing a proposed Cabinet amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, it should have been the speaker's responsibility to restore the legislative function of voting on the controversial bill.
This means that when there is a ruling-opposition standoff on a major bill that will affect national interest that cannot be "negotiated away," the legislative speaker must step up to call a vote on the bill.
A speaker can choose to show his or her tolerance and magnanimity in the face of such a standoff, or he can also call in security to restore order on the legislative floor.
What he or she cannot do is allow the standoff to paralyze the legislative procedure. If the speaker acts in such a way that the legislative body ends up becoming dysfunctional, we can only call this speaker a hypocrite.
What the speaker cannot do is allow his legislative colleagues in both the ruling and opposition parties to become brawlers in parliament who threaten each other.
The amendment bill on the food safety act continued to be stalled Friday, the last day of the current legislative session. Now, an extraordinary legislative session has become necessary.
If the KMT and DPP repeat their previous strategies, it would be better for Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to act in advance rather than simply denouncing delinquent parties after the fact. (Editorial abstract -- June 17, 2012)
(By S.C. Chang)