Establish a Protocol for the State of the Nation Report
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 19, 2012
Summary: We believe the president's State of the Nation Report should retain its multipurpose nature. It should be a policy statement, a vision, and a national ritual. We believe the best mechanism for communication and coopetition between political parties, is a one-on-one, face to face "Party Leaders Summit."
Full Text below:
First, compare two scenarios. One. President Ma has long advocated a "Party Leader Summit." He has long hoped for one-on-one meetings with party leaders, and face to face, in-depth deliberations on national policy. But the opposition DPP has long given him the cold shoulder. Two. The President visits the Legislative Yuan to make his or her State of the Nation Report. But the opposition DPP insists on subjecting the president to Legislative Yuan "interrogation."
This is a consistent pattern in partisan political struggles on Taiwan. An unwillingness to hold one-on-one, face to face, in-depth deliberations on natonal policy, and a preference for free for all gang rumbles. Consider a current example. The ruling and opposition parties are quarreling over whether President Ma should deliver a State of the Nation Report before the Legislative Yuan. President Ma is willing. But the opposition DPP insists on turning it into a Q&A style interrogation.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng says he personally believes any interaction "should not be in the form of a question and answer session." According to the constitution, the president is not subject to Legislative Yuan oversight. He is not answerable to the Legislative Yuan. If the president were to accept such a challenge, he would merely muddy the constitutional framework. Wang Jin-pyng's statement is consistent with the constitutional framework of the dual-leadership system.
Consider the framework of the dual-leadership system. If the president submits to Legislative Yuan interrogation, then his role will clash with the premier's. Also, suppose the president is a minority president and must deal with an opposition controlled legislature? Suppose a minority president must deal with an opposition cabinet? The constitutional crisis could be disastrous.
Consider the original intent of the Additional Articles of the Constitution. The president delivered his State of the Nation Report before the National Assembly. It was clearly different from questioning under the framework of the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan. The National Assembly was later dissolved. The system was transferred to the Legislative Yuan, But the distinction should be preserved. It must not be undermined.
But the constitution merely provides the KMT with a shield. The real reason is to prevent opposition parties from using the State of the Nation Report to humiliate the President, and turning a solemn constitutional ritual into a farce. What this would do to the atmosphere in the Legislative Yuan, and what sort of scenarios would appear, can easily be imagined.
The United States adopted a tripartite system for the separation of powers. The president is not answerable to Congress. The President of the United States visits the Congress annually and delivers his State of the Union Address. He reports on the situation at home and abroad. He offers his political vision. He does not take part in an impromptu Q&A session. Once the President finishes speaking, the entire Congress, regardless of party affilition, gives him a standing ovation, and watches as he or she leaves. This has become an important American political rite, a remarkable event that occurs once each year.
Partisan political clashes in the U.S. Congress are quite vehement. Yet the opposition party would never use the president's State of the Union Address as an opportunity to stage a political protest. The same cannot be said of our own Legislative Yuan. The president might not be subjected to interrogation. But the opposition DPP would have all sorts of tricks up its sleeve. If a Q&A style interrogation were actually held, the scenario can easily be imagined.
Actually, if the president visited the Legislative Yuan to make a State of the Nation Report, it would enhance constitutional rule. Each year the president could offer a vision for national policy. He or she could create a national consensus. He or she could establish guidelines for the national policy and administrative efficiency. This is the key role of the President of the United States' annual State of the Union Address. After all, the U.S. President's State of the Union Address remains subject to rigorous scrutiny by rival political parties and by the general public. This message, first heard in Congress, is communicated through various channels. It is not conducted in the form of a live Q&A session. Is our Legislative Yuan incapable of first listening to the Chief Executive's State of the Nation Report and giving him a standing ovation before subjecting his remarks to rigorous scrutiny through other channels?
As mentioned above, under the current "dual-leadership system," interactions between the president and the legislature must adhere strictly to the constitution. Anything else could precipitate a constitutional crisis. Ruling and opposition party legislators have reached a consensus on the State of the Nation Report. They say "If the president refuses to submit to interrogation, he will not be allowed to deliver his report." They flatter themselves. They put the cart before the horse. If for this reason the president is prevented from delivering his State of the Nation Report before the legislature, it will be a major blow to constitutional rule.
We believe the president's State of the Nation Report should retain its multipurpose nature. It should be a policy statement, a vision, and a national ritual. We believe the best mechanism for communication and coopetition between political parties, is a one-on-one, face to face "Party Leaders Summit."
2012.04.19 02:03 am