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Talk of the Day -- Legislators most to blame for parliamentary paralysis

2014/03/26 19:10

A scene from the March 13 legislative committee review of the service trade pact.

A group of protesters, mostly students, have occupied the Legislative main chamber since March 18 over a controversial trade pact with China, bringing the operations of the Legislature to a halt.

In an effort to resolve the stalemate, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng called a meeting Tuesday to coordinate the views of the ruling and the opposition legislators, but it ended in failure, like an earlier meeting held for the same purpose.

Compared with President Ma Ying-jeou and the protesting students, who have expressed willingness to enter a dialogue, the real culprits behind the paralysis in the Legislature are the legislators themselves.

The following is a roundup of reports on the issue from various daily newspapers.

United Daily News:

At a time when the public hopes the controversy over the trade-in-services pact can be brought to an end quickly, the lawmakers still think that for them, the meeting was just a game.

During Tuesday's meeting, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) asked for a substantive review of the pact by the legislative committees and the restarting of the entire negotiation with China, while its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, demanded that it be returned to the Executive Yuan, which is tantamount to scrapping it altogether, The ruling Kuomintang insisted that the pact has already been sent to the Legislative floor.

All three stuck to their guns, refusing to meet the others halfway, in an irresponsible way.

Have they forgotten that they agreed in June 2013 that the pact should be reviewed item-by-item, that it be voted upon article-by-article and that it should not to be voted upon as a package, and that the government would not put it into practice without legislative screening?

Eager for an early passage, KMT legislators sent the pact to the legislative floor, bypassing normal procedure. Meanwhile, the opposition camp, riding on the wave of the protesters, began to demand more than they originally did.

These abrupt moves have turned the established rules of the game into a farce.

When the protesters leave, the operations of the Legislature will get back on track, but if the two camps still refuse to budge, it will continue to be a futile lawmaking body. (March 26, 2014)

China Times:

The occupation of the Legislature has entered its second week, but a coordination meeting presided over by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng Tuesday failed to make any progress.

The ruling and opposition camps differed on such trivial details as whether the pact should be screened on the legislative floor or by joint committees, without any regard to procedural justice or communications with the protesting students.

But if the students do not disperse, can lawmakers return to screen the pact? If there is no dialogue with the students, will they accept a closed-door agreement between the ruling and opposition parties?

The Legislature is like a kidnap victim, but Wang will not call the police, instead continuing to attempt to calm the kidnappers and insist on parliamentary autonomy without a discretionary use of police force.

Taiwan's future cannot wait, let alone the future of the country's young people.

At this historic crossroads in the country's democratic development, politicians should give up their scheming and face squarely the unprecedented constitutional crisis. They should have dialogue with the students to seek the greatest common ground to overcome the difficulties. (March 26, 2014)

(By Lilian Wu)ENDITEM/J

(Click here for the latest on the ongoing protest and developments since the Legislature occupation starting March 18.)