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June 24, 2017

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Executive order isn't a magic sword to slay the beef issue

At some point last week it became clear that Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers had no intention of breaking the opposition filibuster. The moment may have been when 50 KMT caucus members staged a fleeting protest at the chamber on Friday at noon and then settled in a corner for a bento box lunch. Or it could have been when local reporters found KMT Legislator Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁) outside the chamber in a dairy cow suit, which he said was his way of supporting the beef amendments.

As opposition parties celebrated their block of the beef vote Friday evening, KMT Legislator Chiang Hui-chen (江惠貞) explained the only half-hearted offensive: "We felt that the public did not want us to fight because (the Legislature) is not a savage jungle."

The Legislative Yuan is not exactly a savage jungle, but history tells us that our lawmakers are capable of a good fight. If KMT caucus members had wanted to vote last week, they would have beat 'em, bust 'em, or gotten just a little bit more rowdy.

What they appear to want instead is the problem off their hands: After all, if they never get to vote, they can never be blamed for alienating their constituents. When Speaker Wang Jin-pyng announced an emergency session for the beef issue, a number of KMT legislators were less than thrilled. Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) and Chen Shei-saint (陳學聖) reissued the request that the Cabinet handle beef on its own.

"We've already set the scene for the Executive Yuan to get the issue resolved by an executive order," said Chen.

It is true that the Cabinet is legally entitled to lift Taiwan's ban on U.S. beef containing ractopamine.

According to Article 11 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation, permissible tolerance standards for pesticide residue and veterinary drugs are set by the "central competent authority."

Ractopamine, a substance that promotes lean muscle growth in animals raised for their meat, is classified as a veterinary drug. Theoretically, Ma could remove the ractopamine ban with ease.

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