Friday, January 22, 2010

Su Huan-chih and Hsu Tien-tsai: Why Not Forcibly Occupy the Podium in the Legislature?

Su Huan-chih and Hsu Tien-tsai: Why Not Forcibly Occupy the Podium in the Legislature?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 22, 2010

The ruling and opposition parties were stalemated in the Legislature over the Law of Local Institutions. But eventually after several bouts of scuffling, they successfully held a vote. Such scenes have become commonplace. What leaves the public most angry and confused is that the Legislative Yuan has already undergone a number of structural reforms. It has an internal consultation system. It has a voting system. Yet every time it votes, physical confrontations erupt because the DPP "occupies the podium" by means of brute force. Must the Republic of China legislature remain trapped outside the evolutionary path of democracy?
We're not sure when physically occupying the podium using brute physical force became the DPP's political trademark. Years ago the DPP accused the KMT of one party rule. Their sentiments were shared by society. This led to the reform of the "10,000 Year Legislature." But when the DPP became the ruling party, it continued to throw shoes at its political opponents in the legislature. It continued to use superglue to disable locks to the doors of the legislature, in order to block the passage of bills that did not meet with its approval. The current legislature is the seventh. Its composition is based on the single member district, two ballot system the Green Camp demanded and got. Yet the Democratic Progressive Party continues its practice of physically occupying the podium by means of brute force, It offers all sorts of elaborate rationalizatons for its brawling. But the Blue Camp commands a huge majority in the legislature. It represents the clearly expressed will of a democratic majority. Can the DPP truly ignore this simple reality?

The way the Law of Local Institutions was amended was indeed rushed. The process was indeed too hasty. It was indeed less than entirely rational. But the amended law is an improvement over the original one. The most controversial items have been revised. Additional provisions have been made for the reassignment of township and city mayors to district chiefs. Township and city representatives may not be reassigned to the District Advisory Committee. They may not receive 45,000 NT in research fees. The ruling and opposition parties had already reached a consensus in the morning. But by the afternoon Tsai Ing-wen and Ko Chien-min suddenly reneged. Under the circumstances, the public cannot help wondering whether the Democratic Progressive Party's stonewalling was motivated purely by the desire for a violent confrontation, and by the desire to occupy the podium purely for the sake of occupying the podium.

The Democratic Progressive Party stonewalls on every issue. It practices a "scorched-earth policy." This shows that its actions are utterly unprincipled, and that the DPP is utterly insincere concerning the rational evaluation of public policy. When the DPP was in power it proposed amendments to the Law of Local Institutions. It proposed abolishing township and municipal self-government elections, township and mayor appointments, and the township people's congress. It attempted to abolish grass-roots elections on a scale far greater than today's restructuring of the five major metropolitan areas. Predictably, now that the DPP's role has changed, it is turning around and denouncing the KMT, accusing it of amending the law in order to disrupt local self-government and undermine constitutional order. Apparently the Democratic Progressive Party's stand on the Law of Local Institutions changes according to whether it is in or out of office.

Worse still, the Executive Yuan's original version originally stipulated that township and municipal representatives reassigned to the District Advisory Committee could receive a 45,000 NT monthly salary. This stipulation was advanced by DPP Tainan Mayor Su Huan-chi and DPP Tainan County Executive Hsu Tien-tsai. During consultations between the central and local governments, other participants agreed with the DPP city mayors and county executives. It was only when the legislature began its third reading that the Green Camp suddenly sounded the alarm and accused the KMT of attempting to "install its own people." It even proclaimed that it would defend constitutional government "to the death." But doesn't the Democratic Progressive Party leadership's heroic posturing directly contradict its city mayors' and county executives' opportunism? Doesn't it reveal the DPP's internal contradictions. Doesn't it reveal how it says one thing, but does another thing? The Ma administration's decision-making process may be obtuse. But the chronic and habitual hypocrisy of the Democratic Progressive Party makes it impossible for the public to find any emotional relief.

As far as the KMT is concerned, it won a victory during the melee over the Law of Local Institutions. The Ma adminstration bears scars from the process. An initial lack of communication and evaluation, along with blind obedience of DPP city mayors and county executives led to wrong decisions and widespread discontent. Eventually a brawl within an extraordinary session resolved the differences, and blocked the DPP's attempt to interfere with the review procedure. Actually, it was merely technical victory. But Blue Camp legislators have felt considerable excitement over the past two days. Wang Jin-pyng declared that "This is more like it. This is the way political party must conduct itself." In the end the KMT broke the senseless deadlock the Democratic Progressive Party created when it physically occupied the podium using brute force. This could be considered progress. The important thing is that the Blue Camp legislators, who constitute a three quarters supermajority, have finally become a team. Even more significantly, the will of the people, expressed two years ago during the legislative elections, has finally broken through psychological and strategic barriers in the Legislative Yuan. It is finally enabling the machinery of government to function.

In today's open political environment, the ruling party has little room for clandestine operations. Many deficiencies in administrative decision-making can be overseen by the media and improved by elected representatives. That is why the DPP must forsake its strategy of "perpetual protests." It must adopt more rational means of checks and balances. Only then can it avoid sacrificing the interests of the nation and the public with day after day of scorched-earth warfare.

Why don't Su Huan-chih and Hsu Tien-tsai come to the Legislative Yuan and physically occupy the podium by means of brute force? The Democratic Progressive Party has long been more adept at rhetoric than the KMT. But its dismal record of governance has given the public an insight into chaotic policy. The DPP must find a more civilized strategy for ensuring checks and balances. It must establish a comprehensive policy. It must overcome its own contradictions and hypocrisy. Only then can the DPP restructure itself and raise its political stature.

2010.01.22 03:22 am









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