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Legislative Yuan urged to review crucial bills quickly

TAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou expressed hope Thursday that the Legislative Yuan will quickly review and pass major bills crucial to economic and trade development during a second extra legislative session scheduled for July 28.

Ma issued the call at a tea reception at the Presidential Office for the heads of all five branches of the government — the executive, legislative, judicial, control and examination yuans.

While the reception is a routine event, this time the timing attracted media attention as it came after the Legislature went into recess without a vote on the list of 29 nominees to the Control Yuan, the top government supervisory body, put forward by Ma.

In addition, it was the last such meeting before the current six-year terms of the control and examination yuans are set to expire in late July and late August, respectively.

The reception was first held in May 2009 and is held twice each year. The last gathering was held in late November 2013, but Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng did not attend as he was attending his brother's funeral. The meeting was at the height of a political squabble between Ma and Wang as the president was trying to oust Wang as speaker over allegations of illegal influence peddling.

During Thursday's reception, Ma noted that the deliberations of numerous key government bills were stalled by the three-week-long student-led occupation of the Legislative Yuan that started March 18 and that the Legislature decided to hold an extra session between June 13 and July 4 in order to review nominees to the Control Yuan and interim regulations governing elderly farmers' welfare allowances.

DPP Blockade

However, since an opposition blockade kept the Legislature from voting on the nominations for the Control Yuan members July 4 — the final day of the first extra legislative session — the Legislature decided to hold a second extra session, according to Ma.

The president said that if the Control Yuan continues to be left idle, it will constitute a violation of the Constitution.

Ma said he hopes the legislators will proceed quickly with major bills, including draft bills on free economic pilot zones, legislation for overseeing cross-Taiwan Strait negotiations and the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement.

With support for the service trade pact having surged since March, Ma said this shows that people understand that the bill is of great importance for the country's future development.

He further said that during a visit to China earlier this month by Lai Cheng-i, a prominent local developer who heads Taiwan's General Chamber of Commerce, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told him that the service trade pact is of great significance to Taiwan and that China will not suspend signing bilateral economic and trade pacts with other countries while waiting to sign the pact with Taiwan.

South Korea FTA Impact

Saying that Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul last week to sign a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of 2014, Ma said that the pact will have an immediate impact on Taiwan, just like a U.S.-South Korea FTA that took effect two years ago, which has significantly affected Taiwan's exports.

Ma said that 70 percent of Taiwan's economic growth relies on foreign trade and a considerably high portion of Taiwan's exports overlap those of South Korea. Taiwan cannot prevent the FTAs South Korea signs with other countries from impacting its exports, and the only way for Taiwan to bolster its trade is to sign economic cooperation and FTAs with its trade partners.

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