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Pact supervisory bill hearing fails to convene

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee (IAC) failed to convene a public hearing yesterday over the drafts of a bill supervising cross-strait agreements due to ruling party and opposition disagreements over legislative procedures.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), who doubles as one of the conveners of the IAC, announced the start of the public hearing yesterday morning, but the procedure was boycotted by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers over the “legitimacy” of the hearing.

The DPP caucus said there must not be a public hearing for a bill that is being reconsidered, noting that the Legislative Yuan's house regulations stipulate the period of reconsideration lasts 22 days.

The KMT reiterated that a conclusion of a cross-caucus negotiation held on April 8 states that the legislators agreed to submit the drafts to the IAC “immediately,” and that holding a pubic hearing is appropriate and legal.

Given that no consensus was reached over the procedural issue of a public hearing, Chang soon announced the hearing adjourned.

Chang later told local press that it is unlikely the drafts of the bill would automatically pass the second reading without deliberations, noting that the current impasse over the procedural issues would require the mediation of Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

Chang went on to say that since the Yuan Sitting already submitted the seven versions of the supervisory bill to the IAC, it is hard to explain to the public if the committee does not deliberate the drafts.

Chang said that as one of the IAC conveners, he is obliged to convene meetings for the drafts, stressing that if he does nothing he would be sued for malfeasance.

Chang last week was appointed by the ruling party to convene a public hearing for the pact oversight bill. The DPP caucus, on the other hand, filed a request of reconsideration of the different versions of the bill.

DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the reason the DPP proposed a reconsideration was to avoid a repeat of the “30-second passing service trade pact.”

Chen further said he is worried that if Chang convenes deliberations for the drafts of the pact supervisory bill, the bill will never get a chance to be passed in the Legislative Yuan.

Following the end of the student-led occupation of the Legislative Yuan, on April 11 the Legislature passed the first reading of seven versions of the drafts during the plenary session and sent them to the IAC for deliberations.

The drafts include the Executive Yuan's version, the DPP's version, the student activists' favored version — proposed by the civic group Democratic Front Against the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement — and drafts proposed by other organizations.

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