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Parties mobilize over trade pact scheduling

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The ruling party yesterday raised concerns over the opposition's intent to break conventions by demanding to take part in the scheduling of Legislative Yuan sessions on approving the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services that was drawn up last year.

With the cross-strait service industries trade pact poised to commence approval processes in the Legislative Yuan next week, the Kuomintang (KMT) accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of breaking conventions by insisting on participating in the scheduling of the accord, while vowing that actions will be taken to address the concern.

DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday demanded the inclusion of the opposition party in the scheduling of the bill's approval process, according to the terms rendered during previous negotiations.

Convention dictates that when a bill is adopted by a lawmaker, the scheduling of the approval process will be conducted by the lawmaker and the political party he or she is aligned with, said Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), a KMT lawmaker who also serves as executive director of the ruling party's Policy Committee.

Participation in scheduling is only extended to more than one political party in extraordinary circumstances, such as the drive to expedite the approval of food safety-related amendments following the outbreaks of several high-profile infractions by unscrupulous companies last year, said Lin.

“The DPP clearly intends to hamper the progress of Legislative approval for the service industries trade pact,” said Lin, while vowing to take actions to deter hindrance from the opposition party.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng yesterday urged the DPP to uphold the conventions of the Legislative Yuan, while expressing concern that the scheduling of the approval process may become muddled.

In response, Chen stated that the service industries trade agreement bill will run through the approval process without delay following the conclusion of the final public hearing schedule, while allaying the concerns of the ruling party and the president. Chen, however, stated that the opposition party will not stand by and let the KMT exercise its numerical superiority in representation and strong-arm the bill's passage at the Legislative Yuan while bypassing the guidance of presiding committees.

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