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Oct 23, 2008

Legislative procedure

As everyone knows, I try to keep up with the going ons of the Legislative Yuan. And yesterday there was a bit of an incident that reveals a lot about that body's current situation.

Yesterday during a meeting to discuss a budget proposal in the LY Education and Culture Committee, My least favorite female KMT legislator, Hong Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) [At large], and my second least favorite female DPP legislator, Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) [Kaohsiung City-2], got into a bit of a scuffle.

Here's how it went down:

Three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers held up signs that read “Full control of the government means full authoritarianism” when the meeting began in a bid to boycott the committee’s review of the budget proposal.

The three legislators want to submit a proposal to cut the council’s budget but need another legislator to endorse their request in order to put it on the agenda.

The DPP only has three seats in the committee, however, so their initiative has been put aside.

The council is requesting NT$35.9 billion (US$1.08 billion) for the next fiscal year.

During the review, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) slapped Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) on the face after Hung accidentally injured Kuan’s assistant in the eye as Hung was trying to push a poster away.

Kuan and Hung got into a heated exchange, with Hung accusing Kuan of staging a “show” and Kuan scolding Hung for hurting her assistant.

In the end, the committee cut NT$152.8 million from the budget request before passing it.
After that, Kuan and Hung both held press conferences to condemn each other like little babies. Kuan's aid obviously got the raw end of the deal and had to wear an eye patch.

Besides demonstrating how the whole LY is childish, this incident shows how little power the DPP has when it comes to Legislative Yuan procedures. The DPP cannot vote down, filibusterer, or bottle up in committee and KMT bills; much more seriously, the DPP cannot even raise proposals like amendments. They don't have the committee or floor power.

(Of some importance to this case, but not to the larger issue, the DPP was trying to violate procedure when asking to raise an amendment during this budget discussion meeting; further, the DPP caucus apparently declined a KMT offer to raise the amendment because the KMT wouldn't sign on if the amendment was raised in the DPP caucus' name, and on this point the DPP was perhaps unnecessarily insistent).

In terms of what's best for the LY and democracy, it's best to alter committee procedural rules to allow three (instead of four) members to raise proposals. DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the DPP caucus whip today asked Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to do just that, and Wang while expressed interest in making such changes yesterday, today he told the DPP to control its own people first and worry about procedures later.

So the LY is still a scary and childish place if you ask me.

1 comment:

Dezhong said...

I agree with you about the nature of the Legislative Yuan and I wonder how the DPP legislators (or especially them) will behave in future given their lack of power.

I don't mean to justify any violent behaviour on their part, but perhaps they think that headlines like that will give the public (at least the otherwise non-newspaper-reading, scandal-loving part of it) some impression of resistance against certain KMT policies.

Then again there have always been scuffles like that...