KMT lawmaker claims trade-in-service pact 'passed' despite no review

03/17/2014 09:49 PM
Lawmakers clash during the Monday session.
Lawmakers clash during the Monday session.

Taipei, March 17 (CNA) The Legislature failed to make progress in its review of the cross-strait service trade pact Monday, but Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chang Ching-chung remained unconcerned, calling the item an executive order that should automatically go into effect after three months.

Chang, a co-convener of the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee, said the pact, signed in June last year, will be sent to the Legislative floor only as a record for future reference.

The Act Governing the Legislative Yuan's Powers dictates that legislative committees should complete the review of administrative orders within three months; if the review is not completed within that time, the order is considered reviewed, with certain exceptions.

But the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) immediately said it would not recognize such a procedure.

DPP lawmaker Gao Jyh-peng asked rhetorically, "Why," if the review has already been passed, "are we meeting this afternoon?"

Chang shot back by saying that relevant procedures should be handled according to the law, noting that "the position of the law supersedes any negotiated agreements" between the ruling and opposition parties.

Later in the day, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang condemned the KMT for what he called forcing the passage of the pact, arguing that its implementation could affect more than 1,000 trades and millions of jobs and even, he said, national security.

He also blasted the KMT for breaking a bipartisan agreement made in June 2013, in which both parties explicitly agreed to send the service trade pact for an item-by-item review rather than voting on it as a package.

The trade-in-services pact between Taiwan and China was signed in June 2013, and was supposed to be reviewed the following month.

At the request of the DPP, however, the review began only last week following the completion of 16 public hearings on the pact.

Monday's chaotic session was marked with physical altercations and ill-fated attempts by KMT lawmakers to capture the podium from the DPP lawmakers occupying it.

Chang entered the conference room at 2:30 p.m. for the review but could not wrest away control of the podium, resulting in scuffles between ruling and opposition camps. Chang was pushed to the ground at one point.

Legislators from both parties used microphone systems to try to drown out each other, with noise levels at one point breaking the 100 decibel mark -- nearly as loud as a plane taking off.

DPP lawmakers continued their occupation, punctuated with statements that they found the day's procedure invalid and playing a Taiwanese-language adaptation of the song "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from the musical "Les Miserables," now a popular protest song in Taiwan.

Their efforts were met with cries of "we want a meeting" from the KMT caucus, while at least one lawmaker criticized the decision to play music. "The Legislature is not a karaoke parlor!"

A source in the Legislature said that the stalemate will continue until the ruling and opposition parties can find some middle ground.

The source spoke of three possible scenarios. Ruling and opposition lawmakers could reach an agreement to recognize that the pact has reached the Legislative Yuan; the review could be postponed to a later date after obtaining the consent of the Legislature; or the pact could be put straight to a vote.

(By Sophia Yeh, Chen Wei-ting and Lilian Wu)


Related stories:●March 17: Legislative scuffles further stall trade-in-service pact review●March 14: President regrets stalling of service trade pact●March 13: Service trade pact makes no progress on day 2 of legislative review●March 12: Official warns that pact delays could hurt chances of future FTAs

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