Legislative Yuan Must Maintain Order and Uphold the Law
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 17, 2012
Summary: On Friday the U.S. beef imports bill was stalled in the legislature. Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng issued a reprimand to the DPP. But suppose the same farce is reenacted during the emergency session of the legislature? In that case, an ounce of prevention will be worth a pound of cure. Otherwise the public may conclude that the Speaker of the Legislature is responsibile for the paralysis of the legislature.
Full Text below:
The legislature is the place where political parties discuss official business. Two concepts are involved: "political parties" and "the discussion of official business."
The role of political parties is to advocate policies and transform them into law. The role of the legislature is to provide a forum for the discussion of official business. That means the Legislative Yuan must keep itself in running order. That means ultimate responsibility for keeping the Legislative Yuan in running order falls upon the shoulders of the Speaker of the Legislature.
Article III of the Legislative Yuan Organic Law states, "The Legislative Yuan must adhere to the principle of neutrality and fairness. It must maintain order within the Legislative Yuan and deal with the official business of the Legislative Yuan in accordance with the Legislative Yuan's rules of procedure." The law clearly states that order must be maintained within the Legislative Yuan, that the proceedings of the Legislative Yuan must be carried out in accordance with the rules of the Legislative Yuan, and that the responsibility for ensuring that the rules are followed falls upon the Legislative Yuan. The principle of neutrality and fairness means that the Legislative Yuan must adopt a neutral stance. It must allow all parties to express their viewpoints. Every party must be assured its legal rights. No party may be granted extralegal privileges. Once the various parties have had the opportunity to make their views known, the Legislative Yuan must ensure the completion of the voting process. This is the ultimate goal of the Legislative Yuan's principle of neutrality and fairness. This is the Legislative Yuan's legal duty: to maintain order and conduct official business.
Legislators often "occupy" the dais in the Legislative Yuan using brute force, so that voting cannot be carried out. This phenomenon is becoming more frequent and more violent. Some people are actually boasting that they "participated in the historic five day four night occupation of the Legislative Yuan." How did the situation degenerate to this level? It degenerated to this level because Legislative Yuan officials have never properly distinguished between partisan politics and official business. They treat official business like partisan politics. They treat parliamentary procedure like partisan politics. They forget that Legislative Yuan officials are responsible for maintaining order. They forget that maintaining order is the inescapable legal responsibility of the Speaker of the Legislature.
U.S. beef imports have been stalled because the DPP has occupied the dais. The public is waiting to see how the Special Session of the Legislative Yuan will play out. The legislature was paralyzed for five days and four nights. The media invoked the terminology of war to describe the Blue vs. Green confrontation. One side was "defending its position to the death." The other side was "trying to seize the high ground." Those "defending their position to the death" boasted that they "weren't afraid to shed blood." Those "trying to seize the high ground" were mocked as "cowards afraid to fight." The legislature may convene an emergency session. But will it reenact the same farce? Will the DPP re-occupy the dais, so that it may strut before the public? Will the KMT once again fear to attack, only to be mocked as weak and incompetent? Members of the public come across like cheerleaders. One side shouts "Hold that line! Even if you are bleeding you must hold your positions! The other side shouts "Charge! Even if they draw blood, you must take the high ground!"
Party A occupies the dais. Can the business of the legislature proceed? Astonishingly enough, many onlookers assume the answer depends on whether Party B can physically drag Party A off the dais! This farcical scene shows that the Legislative Yuan is no longer in working order. It shows that the Speaker of the Legislature is derelict in his duty. Legislative Yuan officials sit idly by as a minority violently disrupts the workings of the legislature, and denies majority legislators the right to express their views and cast their votes. This clearly favors a violent minority and hurts a peaceful majority. It clearly contravenes the principle of neutrality and fairness. It clearly constitutes a failure to maintain order. It clearly constitutes a dereliction of duty.
The Legislative Yuan is supposed to conducts its business in accordance with the law. Yet the Green Camp has occupied the dais and is preventing the Blue Camp from conducting official Legislative Yuan business. The public has been led to believe that the outcome depends upon which camp wins at "King of the Mountain." The public has been led to believe that this fight to the bitter end will decide winners and losers. The public has been led to believe that the Legislative Yuan is a battleground where criminal gangs wage turf wars. The public has been led to believe that only when blood has been drawn, can the gladiatorial combat end. This truly is outrageous beyond belief.
A political party may choose to follow proper protocol. It may choose to "occupy" the dais using brute force. But Legislative Yuan officials may not pass the buck on to political parties. They may not watch and see who fractures whose skull. They must ensure neutrality and fairness. They must maintain order. They must enable the conduct of official business. The Legislative Yuan must resume being a place where we count heads. In other words, the responsibility for maintaining order within the legislature falls upon the shoulders of the Speaker of the Legislature, not the political parties. The political parties have their own agendas. The Speaker of the Legislature must ensure fairness and neutrality. He must fulfill his duty to maintain order.
The Speaker of the Legislature may have his own approach to such matters. Moderates may want the Speaker to be tolerant and accommodating. Radicals may want the Speaker to "go by the book," i.e., abide by the Legislative Yuan Security Guard Duty Regulations. and invoke his police powers. The Speaker of the Legislature may choose his approach. He can use both the carrot and the stick. The one thing he may not do is shirk responsibility and permit the officia business of the legislature to be brought to a standstill. He must ensure that neutrality and fairness are not compromised. He must be diliegent in his duty. Anything else would amount to hypocrisy.
Consider the Speaker of the Legislature's police powers. The Speaker of the Legislature need not wait until someone has occupied the dais before ordering security guards into action. He can anticipate a major conflict. He can assign security guards to occupy the dais in advance. He can adopt a defensive posture. Then if some legislators commit assault and battery, they will clearly be the aggressors. They will be held accountable. That will avoid a conflict between legislators. The conflict may be ended without physical injury.
On Friday the U.S. beef imports bill was stalled in the legislature. Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng issued a reprimand to the DPP. But suppose the same farce is reenacted during the emergency session of the legislature? In that case, an ounce of prevention will be worth a pound of cure. Otherwise the public may conclude that the Speaker of the Legislature is responsibile for the paralysis of the legislature.