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US pork bodes trouble for incoming Cabinet: DPP legislative caucus

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The issue of U.S. pork containing ractopamine will prove an "undetonated bomb" for the new premier, according to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus.

Incoming Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and a reshuffled Cabinet are set to be sworn in today.

Jiang is facing formidable challenges, said DPP Caucus Convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) on Sunday.

This March, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiators are likely to broach the topic of Taiwan's ban on ractopamine in pork. Taiwan's "pork barrel" cities and counties are highly sensitive to changes to the ban, and the issue is an undetonated bomb, Ker told local media.

How the ruling administration moves on U.S. pork will affect the DPP's campaign to recall legislators and the president, which is set to unfold in April, said Ker.

The DPP convener claimed other challenges for the new premier: an economic recession, "a political environment that is increasingly turning against the ruling administration" and issues like media monopolization, nuclear power and pension reform.

All related bills are set to "blossom" in the Legislative Yuan in March and April, said Ker.

Jiang Dragging Feet: Ker

Jiang is deliberately moving slowly over pension reform and prolonging social conflict, according to Ker.

While serving as vice premier, Jiang single-handedly shaped the Executive Yuan's pension reform, said Ker. Therefore, it is technically possible for the new Cabinet to submit a pension reform bill immediately after Jiang assumes the premiership.

Yet Jiang has chosen to delay the release date until April, as he wishes to avoid facing public scrutiny upon taking office. By doing so, the new premier effectively draws out social conflict over the reform, he said.

Ker said the major opposition party will provide stringent oversight on all Jiang's bills. "The flower buds grown in the ruling administration's greenhouse still must withstand the test of the outside storm," he said.

DPP Slate

The DPP has drafted 10 of its own priority bills for the legislative session that opens Feb. 26, according to Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), executive director of the DPP's Policy Research Committee.

These include an anti-media monopolization law and a draft revision to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例), as an alternative to the Cabinet recommendation, said Wu.

Other priorities are bills for a nuclear-free homeland and revisions to the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法) and the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財劃法), according to Ker, the caucus convener.

"Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 is an interminable dispute. It's time for the Legislative Yuan to face it afresh," he said.

Before the new legislative session opens, the DPP caucus will meet to discuss an offensive strategy, said Ker.

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