Replacing Legislature with honest lawmakers is only hope
The China Post news staffWhat is known as the “September Strife” between President Ma Ying-jeou and Wang Jin-pyng, speaker of the Legislative Yuan, has prompted the Kuomintang to propose doing away with horse-trading in parliamentary procedure.
September 25, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Taiwan's parliament is probably one of the worst in the world, notorious for opposition lawmakers occupying the rostrum to prevent action on bills. Clashes on the rostrum usually result in free-for-alls, which are often televised across the world as a spectacle of parliamentary dysfunction and of how the rule of law is upheld in Taiwan. Wang is chiefly responsible for the recent melee because of his refusal to enforce order in parliament, and that's one reason why President Ma, seeking to reform the nation's highest legislative organ, wants to get rid of him as speaker.
After Taiwan was democratized with the imposition of a ban on lifetime appointments for legislators, the Legislature became an arena for opposition legislators and for long periods remained idle or even paralyzed. To improve its track record, the results of negotiations between ruling and opposition parties were codified 15 years ago in the Parliamentary Procedure Law. The new system worked for a time, but soon gave rise to a form of political horse-trading, the most scandalous example of which is an amendment to the Audit Law exonerating Yen Ching-piao, an independent lawmaker friendly to the Kuomintang, from charges of using public funds to take friends to girlie bars during his term as Taichung County council speaker, and pro-Democratic Progressive Party university professors from embezzlement of research funds.
Under the amended Parliamentary Procedure Law, all bills referred to or sponsored by the Legislative Yuan for action shall undergo deliberation in standing committee after the first reading or assigned for a second reading. Should there be disagreement in committee or a request before the second reading, the bills are submitted to the speaker who then calls party whips to mediate between the ruling and opposition parties. Each deliberative session may last for a month, during which time no action can be taken on the bills, creating a huge backlog that paralyzes the legislature.