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Taiwan lawmakers should grow up

Taiwan lawmakers should grow up

Thursday's brawl at the Legislative Yuan on the first day of a special session called to review the controversial "Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement" with the authoritarian People's Republic of China provided ample evidence for citizens to demand that Taiwan legislators of all parties grow up and start acting like mature adults and politicians in a democratic society.
Neither side is blameless, but, in contrast to the tone set by most of the news media, there should be no doubt that the lion's share of responsibility for Thursday's tussle should be borne by the ruling KMT.
The arrogant refusal by President and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's administration secure citizen input and consensus and legislative authorization for the ECFA negotiations, its use of a 21-person "Referendum Review Committee" to veto in advance two ECFA related referendum petitions, and its refusal to permit serious legislative debate after the June 29 signing of the controversial pact have (perhaps deliberately) sown the seeds for deeper political polarization and antagonism in our society.
Indeed, Thursday's fracas erupted over the KMT's use of its overwhelming legislative majority to block any substantial debate and review of the signed agreement and its related draft revisions to the tax, tariff, trademark and copyright codes.
Moreover, the KMT legislative caucus further provoked an angry DPP response through a "preemptive reaction" featuring the surrounding of Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and signalling from the beginning the intention to arbitrarily refer the ECFA bills for formalistic second and third readings instead of a substantive article by article review and debate.
Nevertheless, the DPP legislative caucus must take responsibility for the excessive violence displayed in its raucous protest, especially the tossing of a 1.1 kilogram vote counter by a DPP lawmaker that fortunately only inflicted a minor injury on a KMT counterpart.
Moreover, this display was both futile and harmful to the DPP's attempts to rebuild its image as a responsible and principled democratic party and was compounded by the no less futile decision to boycott the rest of the special session.
These all-too-predictable actions provided Ma and KMT spokespersons with the opportunity to divert public attention from their party's own arrogance and contempt for democratic accountability and the constitutional obligations of the Legislative Yuan and shift focus on to the "ungentlemanly" behavior of DPP lawmakers and the opposition party's own apparent refusal to carry out its own legislative duty.
Dignity and non-violence
Far more effective would have been alternatives of non-violent direct action, such as a silent legislative "sit-in" or a more active "speak-in."
The absurd scene of KMT legislators surrounding the Speaker's podium to defend Wang, especially if an assault never occurred, would have far more clearly exposed the KMT's arrogant and undemocratic handling of the ECFA review, while an organized "speak in" could have provided news reporters and citizens with the DPP's views on what is wrong with the ECFA and its underlying strategy and what the DPP's alternatives are.
Such non-violent direct action options would have sent a far louder message to Taiwan's citizens and restored DPP's image as a party that was both resolved to defend democracy and the interests of the majority of Taiwan's people and intent on the principle of non-violence.
Indeed, by doing what the KMT wanted it to do instead adopting its own positive action, the DPP showed that it had failed to appreciate the needs of the most important audience, namely the Taiwan electorate and especially citizens who are as yet undecided in their verdict on ECFA or have yet to decide how they will vote in the critical Nov. 27 municipal mayoral elections.
In the next month's special session for the second reading of the ECFA, the DPP would be better advised not to allow itself to be maneuvered into a false dilemma between "endorsing dictatorship" or "walking out" that actually surrenders the legislative battlefield to the KMT.
The DPP would be far better advised to instead actively use the Legislative forum, however imperfect or controlled by the ruling party, as a platform to educate our citizens and build alliances with labor, environmental, industrial and agricultural interests groups and civil and social reform organizations to reflect their concerns over the overall structure and strategy of the ECFA and its devilish details.
The DPP legislative caucus has a duty to the Taiwan people to publicly expose with dignity and professionalism the problems in the ECFA and the continuing secret KMT-CCP sell-out of Taiwan's economic autonomy and prosperity and sovereignty for both the sake of the education of our citizens and for the legislative and historical record.
If the KMT wishes to use its legislative majority to display its own contempt for Taiwan's democracy by ramming the ECFA and its related bills through the legislature without substantive discussion or review, we hope that Taiwan citizens will take seriously their own political responsibility to take the KMT to account in the November mayoral polls and the 2012 legislative and presidential elections.


Updated : 2022-01-23 06:54 GMT+08:00

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