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KMT caucus reconsidering controversial bills

Critics say two newly passed amendments pave way for return to black gold politics

KMT caucus reconsidering controversial bills

The legislative caucus of the main opposition Kuomintang will study the feasibility of overturning two controversial bills that the caucus itself initiated and pushed for passage last week, party sources said yesterday.
According to the sources, KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yi, himself a legislator, ordered the formation of a seven-member task force to study the issue Friday after a heated debate among caucus members over whether the party should take the initiative to invalidate two newly passed amendments to the Farmers Association Law and the Fishermen Association Law that critics said would pave the way for the "return of black gold politics."
The amendments not only cancel three-term limits for secretaries general of farmers and fishermen associations and lower requirements for them to renew their employment but also stipulate that association staff standing trial are not to be relieved of their jobs until a final verdict is delivered in their cases.
Under the existing laws, indicted staff members from farmers and fishermen associations are to be fired from their posts following conviction in their second trials for criminal activities.
The passage of the two amendment packages with the blessing of the KMT-led "pan-blue alliance" which controls a slim majority in the legislature has drawn criticism from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and many political commentators as well.
The DPP party central and its legislative caucus have thrown support behind the Executive Yuan's plan to ask the Legislative Yuan to reconsider the two controversial bills on the grounds that 95 percent of current secretaries general whose loyalties traditionally lie with the KMT will be able to dominate the organizations indefinitely despite the fact that many of them have criminal records.
During Friday's KMT caucus meeting, two members - Legislators Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄) and Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), both of whom maintain close ties to the party's presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) - took the party authority to task for backing such controversial amendments to the laws governing farmers and fishermen associations across the county.
The two KMT lawmakers said the passage of the controversial amendments have tarnished the party's image and could even hurt Ma's presidential campaign.
"At a time when the public is fed up with official corruption and holds high expectations of political integrity, we should not hesitate to make an about-face in this matter," Hsu said.
Wu Yu-sheng echoed Hsu's view, saying that the party should not break its promise to promote clean politics. "If we fail to correct our mistakes in this case, the public could lose faith in our promise and withdraw their support for our candidates in the coming legislative and presidential elections," he warned.
Hsu said that if the party caucus fails to come up with a "reconsideration" motion before the May 22 deadline, he will show up when the Legislature deals with the Executive Yuan's request for reconsideration of the two amendment packages to protest the KMT central and legislative caucus' "cowardice."
However, some caucus members, including Legislator Pai Tien-chih, who concurrently serves as managing supervisor of the Taiwan Provincial Farmers Association, voiced different views, saying that since other public office holders, from the president down, are not forced to quit until after being convicted in the third or final trial, it's unreasonable to demand that farmers and fishermen association executives step down after being convicted in the second trial.
In response, Secretary-General Wu Den-yi said he will invite seven lawmakers with differing views to discuss the issue tomorrow and make a final decision on the party's stance.
Under the current regulations, the Executive Yuan and the legislative caucuses of various political parties can ask the Legislature to reconsider a controversial bill that has already cleared the Legislature within a specified period of time after the bill's passage. If the bill is backed by more than half of the lawmakers in a second vote, it will take effect; otherwise, it will be invalidated.
After Premier-designate Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) formally takes the helm at the Executive Yuan on Monday, he is expected to determine soon whether to ask the opposition-controlled Legislature to reconsider the two amendment packages.


Updated : 2021-05-14 10:37 GMT+08:00