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May 28, 2017

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KMT accuses DPP of trying to strangle trade pact

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) said yesterday that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus has broken parliamentary conventions over the cross-strait service trade pact review, adding that lawmakers in favor of the pact should consider petitioning the Executive Yuan to pronounce it effective in accordance with the law.

DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), convener of the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee, recently set Feb. 12 and 13 as the dates for reviewing the pact, a move which KMT lawmakers have interpreted as an attempt to gain control of the review process.

"(DPP lawmakers) have repeatedly said that the chances of the cross-strait service trade pact clearing (the Legislature) are near zero. It is apparent that they are completely against it. Therefore, we have sufficient reason to believe that the DPP is solely intent on blocking the pact by breaking conventions and settling the review," said KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), who also serves as chief executive of the ruling party's Policy Committee.

The ruling party's caucus whip Wang Ting-son (王廷升) said that according to the Organic Law of Committees of the Legislative Yuan (立法院各委員會組織法), the KMT should be responsible for setting the dates for review since it was the party that proposed the bill in the first place.

Chen violated parliamentary conventions in order to "strangle" the pact, Lin said. "If such precedent is allowed, it would lead to chaos. How are bills to be reviewed in the future?"

Chang said that according to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Powers (立法院職權行使法), if a legislative committee takes more than three months to review an executive order, the review is deemed complete.

It has been more than three months since the pact was submitted to the committee for review, Chang explained.

KMT lawmaker Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said, however, that directly pronouncing the pact effective runs counter to agreements reached between the different caucuses, and that such a move may lead to the replacement of not only the minister of the Mainland Affairs Council but perhaps also the entire Cabinet.

According to a source within the ruling party, KMT Vice Chairman and Secretary-general Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said during an intra-party meeting that the fate of the pact will have an effect on the economy, instructing the Policy Committee to supervise the caucus and ensure a swift passage.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that both the ruling party and the opposition agreed to conduct an article-by-article review and vote on the pact, and that it cannot take effect automatically despite Chang's argument.

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