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The unfortunate reality of Taiwanese politics

As the U.S. beef issue is scheduled to go through the Legislature for voting today, tensions have risen between the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has instructed its party legislators to vote unanimously on the passing of the U.S. beef-related amendment draft to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) or face party disciplinary measures, which includes at least a fine of NT$30,000, the KMT party caucus announced on June 7.

Meanwhile, the DPP plans on exercising its filibuster strategies. In the past, in order to prevent a disfavored act from going through the voting process, DPP legislators have locked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng out of the meeting room, spit on legislators holding different opinions, and some even went to the extent of literally eating up the draft that was to be voted on.

DPP legislators yesterday took over the legislative speaker's podium, holding posters and shouting their protests aloud. DPP legislators have begun camping out at the Legislative Yuan to demonstrate their resolution on disagreeing with the U.S. beef amendment. The event will last for a total of 120 hours.

Both the KMT and DPP have been holding their respective predictable positions by the political game book. President Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT emphasize on the potential benefits of importing U.S. beef, while the DPP stands firm against the government's policy, arguing that ractopamine-containing beef is detrimental to the health of the Taiwanese people.

It is understandable why the DPP have taken such extreme measures, given their minority status in the Legislature. Backed up by worries over the safety of the leanness enhancer (widely in use in U.S. cattle feeds), the DPP have chosen to take the most direct route by attracting attention and stalling the voting process in an effort to prevent the voting from happening at all.

June 12, 2012    skylarjones@
The DPP wants Taiwan independence. So, they fight the PRC. The only country that helps to guarantee Taiwan's de facto independence from the PRC is the USA. But the DPP fights the USA over beef that 300+ million Americans eat everyday. Where's the sanity?
June 15, 2012    major_bob1@
Aside from the US beef issue, I am very surprised (and disappointed) to learn that the KMT will fine democratically elected representatives if they vote in opposition to the official "party" position! This is neither a democracy nor a representative form of government. It is no different than the one party rule of the PRC. Elected representatives should vote as they feel is in the best interest of the people they serve, not as they are directed to by some small group of party leaders. Certainly in the US political parties put pressure on members to support certain issues by denying committee memberships and with holding campaign funds, but NEVER a monetary fine for voting the wrong way.

It is a very sad reflection on the state of a true democracy in a country with such potential. I know Taiwan hasn't had many years of experience with the freedom of democratic rule, but the lack of maturity is evident in the actions of both major parties.
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