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May 30, 2017

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KMT offers conditions for extra legislative session

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kuomintang (KMT) caucus yesterday said that if the Legislative Yuan is to hold an extra session for the pending amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, then the session should focus on passing the terms of punishment and the establishment of a food safety fund.

The regular legislative session ended last Tuesday, and during the final day of the session the Legislature passed the government's 2014 annual budget and an amendment to the Communication Security and Surveillance Act. However, a much-debated food safety law amendment was not added to the final day's agenda.

Commentators have criticized both the ruling and opposition parties and urged the Legislature to hold an extra session over the Act Governing Food Sanitation, as it involves the issue of food safety.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus claimed that the KMT intentionally blocked the bill from being added to the agenda, to which the KMT responded that the DPP did not even propose that the bill be added to the agenda.

KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said that the amendment could not pass in the regular legislative session because DPP lawmaker Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) could not reach a consensus with the rest of the lawmakers over an article about counterevidence in food safety lawsuits, which stalled the bill.

Lin said that in light of this, the DPP should be the party to propose holding interim meetings for the bill, after which a cross-party negotiation could decide the date for the extra session and relevant details.

Lin went on to say that any potential extra session should only involve discussion of articles in the amendment that people care about the most, such as how to establish a food safety fund and how to punish organizations that violate the Act Governing Food Sanitation. Lin said that any remaining articles could wait until the next regular legislative session.

DPP Counterattacks

DPP lawmaker Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), who doubles as the Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee convener, responded that the KMT was in no position to demand conditions for holding extra sessions, as the DPP has agreed to the Executive Yuan's version of the amendment about counterevidence.

Chao said he suspects the KMT has been compromised by certain interest groups and intends to stall the bill.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) stated that since the DPP is not the ruling party, it was curious that the KMT would argue that the amendment not passing was the DPP's fault.

Ker said that since the KMT is in charge of the agenda, and it was he that reminded KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chi (林鴻池) to add the bill into the Yuan Sitting's agenda, he again questioned how this could be the responsibility of the DPP.

The Consumers' Foundation (CF) recently conducted a survey among legislators, asking whether or not they would agree to hold an extra session for the amendments to the food safety bill. The result showed that over half of legislators would agree, including 40 DPP lawmakers, 16 KMT lawmakers, and 4 independent legislators.

According to the R.O.C. Constitution, extra sessions need the approval of one fourth of legislators to be held.

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