Legislative Yan Committee argues over CSSTA review process

Legislative Yan Committee argues over CSSTA review process

In a meeting of a task force in the Internal Affairs Committee Wednesday to review the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA), opposition legislators made a total of six requests including an extension of the time limit on the study and better access to the Executive Yuan. All six proposals were scuttled after protests by KMT members of the committee, however, drawing derisive comments from DPP legislator Lee Chun-yi.

Wednesday’s meeting was the third in a series of sessions aimed at giving committee members a better understanding of the terms and conditions in the trade agreement.

At the same time the CSSTA is also being reviewed in the Executive Yuan by a committee made up of representatives from eight divisions. On Wednesday Chang repeated his earlier statement that since officials from eight different agencies in the Executive Yuan are reviewing the bill there, the Legislative Yuan should also bring in members form eight other committees to participate in the review.

PFP legislator Chen Yi-chieh pointed out that some members of the Internal Affairs Committee have access to confidential documents, but other members including those from the KMT, DPP and TSU do not, and the PFP does not have a member on the committee. She urged the group to allow the PFP access to some of the documents "so we can understand what is in these so-called secret clauses.”

Committee convener Chen Chi-mai spoke out against such a proposal, saying that the Exercise of Powers Act for the Legislative Yuan limits access to certain documents to committee members, ad hoc professionals working with the committee and others designated by the speaker of the Legislative Yuan. Chen said he supports Chang Ching-chung’s idea of adding legislators from various committees to form a joint committee, noting that such a change could give the PFP a chance to participate in the CSSTA review

Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Wang Yu-chi said that he understands the reasoning behind the arguments on secret clauses, but added that members of the legislative and executive branches of government should respect each other’s positions and rights. He said the government will try to provide whatever materials the legislators may request, but he also hopes they will respect the inherent authority of the Executive Yuan.

Legislator Duan Yi-kang complained that the government always tried to paint the brightest picture possible in talking about CSSTA. Wang Yu-chi countered that there are many more conditions set by CSSTA that are to Taiwan’s benefit than those that would be advantageous to China, it’s just that “we have not yet revealed them all.” He added that this is not because there is much that could be harmful to Taiwan; it is simply that the government has selected a number of points as starting points for discussion.

Duan continued with his criticism of the Ma government’s attitude, saying it was not up to them to decide what should be disclosed to the public and what should be kept under wraps. “When the public wants to know something,” he asked,” “shouldn’t you disclose it?"

Lee Chun-yi questioned whether the Executive Yuan should be given the power to disclose only what it thinks will not affect its own actions. He said that in allowing the Executive Yuan to do that, the Legislative Yuan was letting them “keep their black box” and abrogating its own powers and responsibilities. Chen Chi-mai added that if the negotiation process is not open to the public and nothing is explained afterwards, "If that is not black box negotiations, then what is?"

Updated : 2021-03-06 02:02 GMT+08:00