KMT, DPP caucuses still torn over cross-strait pact ahead of new session
By Katherine Wei ,The China Post
February 5, 2014, 12:14 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The ruling party and opposition caucuses are still torn over the cross-strait service trade pact as the Legislative Yuan's new session is about to begin.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) declared that the Legislature should scrap the "empty authorization agreement" included in the pact, a demand that the Kuomintang (KMT) caucus pronounced equal to raising another debate on the pact.
The KMT caucus said that only the original version should be reviewed by the Legislature.
Passed last June without the public's knowledge, the trade agreement became a highly controversial issue with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and TSU lawmakers claiming that the agreement is essentially an illegitimate backroom deal.
Without a date of implementation, the pact has yet to be carried out. Pan-blue legislators called for a "package review," wishing to review and vote on the pact in one go, instead of examining it article by article, which the opposition is in full favor of.
The Legislature agreed to hold 20 public hearings for industries that will be affected by the pact before the actual review begins. The last public hearing is slated to be held before March 10.
'Empty Authorization' Needs to Be Abolished: DPP
The DPP caucus has insisted on the "principle of legal preservation" and plans to get the Legislature to establish a task force on cross-strait relations.
TSU caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said that China and Taiwan ought to begin exchanging views on the pact on a mutually beneficial basis.
"The results of the negotiations will form part of the pact," said Hsu. "Industries that are sensitive for both sides are not included in the pact, such as lawyers and media outlets. If the pact is passed, this means that the Legislature has granted the government the right to implement agreements without the consent of lawmakers. This empty authorization has to be taken off the bill."
The so-called "empty authorization" addresses the fact that the government signed the agreement with mainland China without the approval of the Legislative Yuan, which represents the people. Hsu went on to say that when countries like the United States negotiate trade and economic agreements with other countries, parliamentary authorization is essential, a procedure designed to protect the rights of the people.
Pact Has to Be Passed: KMT
"The pact has to be passed. There is no way that (politicians) can keep on (stalling economic progress) and affect Taiwan's future," said KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池).
Lin said that the pact will be reviewed and voted on immediately after the last hearing ends, and will definitely be passed in the next session, which opens on Feb. 21.