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Lawmakers bicker over pact oversight bill review schedule

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Lawmakers are bickering over the schedule for a review of a bill introducing oversight of cross-strait negotiations.

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers had the legislative Interior Committee schedule a public hearing for the oversight bill tomorrow, the first step toward a formal review.

But their counterparts from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have filed a request for reconsideration of a motion that allows the public hearing to begin.

The Legislature's plenary session resumed Friday after an almost monthlong blockade by student protesters who had occupied the parliament chamber to demand stricter monitoring of cross-strait negotiations.

The plenary session quickly adopted a motion to forward a total of seven versions of the oversight bill to the legislative Interior Committee, which officially kicked off the review process.

While it was a consensus among lawmakers across the political spectrum that the oversight bill would be “immediately” forwarded to the committee review, the DPP camp changed its mind.

The DPP lawmakers argue that the agreement to “immediately” forward the bill does not mean that they cannot request for a reconsideration.

The DPP apparently is unwilling to let KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung, a convener of the Interior Committee, preside over the public hearing for the bill.

Chang has been blamed for sparking the students' occupation of the legislative compound after he forced through the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement at a joint-committee review without having it reviewed.

DPP whip Wu Ping-yi said his caucus is requesting a reconsideration of the motion not because of its objection to reviewing the bill, but instead to underscore the “illegal” scheduling of the review.

There must not be a public hearing for a bill being reconsidered, he said. He noted that the Legislature's house regulations stipulate that the period of reconsideration last 22 days, after which it is DPP Legislator Michael Chen's turn to schedule meetings for the Interior Committee.

The KMT's legislative leader Lin Hung-chih said the DPP deputies are dragging their feet in violation of the public's expectations for swift reviews of the bill.

He insisted that the legislative plenary session has already forwarded the bill to the Interior Committee, which now has the authority to schedule the public hearings.

The hearings are meant to collect public opinions to facilitate the formal review of the oversight bill, Lin added.

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