Thursday, September 26, 2013

Normalization of the Legislature: The Real Issue

Normalization of the Legislature: The Real Issue
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
A Translation
September 26, 2013

Summary: Most media polls are unfavorable to President Ma. Many in the KMT are defecting. Some are attempting to effect a reconciliation between Ma and Wang. But we hope President Ma will uphold justice and refuse to retreat. We call on the people to offer their support and to transcend partisanship. Use this rare opportunity to address the problem, to bring order out of chaos, and to restore the legislature to its normal functions.

Full text below:

Ma and Wang continue to wrangle endlessly. The DPP continues to revel in Schadenfreude. The KMT remains plagued by internal power struggles. Politics remains deadlocked. Ma Ying-jeou says the Speaker of the Legislature may not peddle influence with the Judiciary, and must distinguish right from wrong. The Ma vs. Wang struggle cannot continue. We must now await a legal verdict. Influence peddling with the Judiciary is a red line that must not be crossed. It is surely a matter of right vs. wrong. But what matters most is whether the political turmoil will increase everyone's vigilance. The gridlock in the Legislature cannot continue. The normal functioning of a democratic legislature must be restored. Otherwise the nation's competitiveness will continue to decline, and the people will continue to suffer.

The lesions are conspicuous and appear with increasing frequency. The need for solutions is urgent. Superficially the legislature appears full of life. It is constantly in the news. But essentially it is riddled with disease. It could suffer a paralyzing stroke at any time. The Legislative Yuan is paralyzed, and riddled with structural problems. The judicial influence peddling scandal is serious. It urgently requires rehabilitation. The Legislative Yuan has not been a forum for democratic pluralism for some time. It is actually more like the Colosseum, a forum for ruling vs opposition party gladiatoral combat. In public, legislators repeatedly occupy the podium, and engage in shouting matches and physical scuffles. In private, the ruling and opposition parties make all sorts of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" deals behind closed doors. As these under the table deals persist, the public becomes inured. This abnormal behavior in the legislature begins to seem normal.

The scope of the Ma vs. Wang political struggle has expanded, and its intensity has increased. Otherwise, it would never have touched off so much soul-searching. This "shock to the system" is likely to affect the economy and peoples livelihood. People are likely to wake up. They are likely to demand normal ruling vs. opposition party relations and a fully functioning Legislative Yuan. People need political leaders who will see the big picture and offer real solutions. They need more effective lawmakers who will consider the national interest. For precisely this reason, the Ma vs. Wang political struggle must not remain frozen at the level of a political struggle. More thought and action are required. We call for the transformation of negatives into positives. The old habits of the Legislative Yuan must be changed. Democratic institutions must be rebuilt, and return to normal functioning. This will be to the benefit of the nation. It answers to the public. It staunchly upholds the distinction between right and wrong.

When the legislature reconvenes, Wang Jin-pyng will return and preside over it. Some may think this gives the royalists a "home court advantage." But look closely. That is not necessarily true. Wang Jin-pyng may receive public sympathy in the short run. But that does not mean the public agrees that Wang should preside over the legislature. Ruling vs. opposition party battles and legislative gridlock are likely to immediately reappear, just as before. They are sure to rekindle public resentment against the Legislative Yuan and lead to further reflection. They could provide a stimulus. They may clarify the dispute between Ma and Wang. They may lead to legislative and institutional reforms that excise the tumors. Speaker of the Legislature Wang says he seeks harmony, is loyal to his party, and loves his country. He in particular should give serious thought to public expectations that he restore the legislature to its normal functions.

This newspaper has previously noted that "Wang Jin-pyng can hardly disown responsibilty for the chaos in the legislature." We now reiterate, the hallmark of democracy is that the minority must defer to the majority, and the majority must respect the minority. Currently however, the legislature has been turned upside down. It acts totally contrary to democratic norms. Lawmakers are regularly re-elected. Each legislator represents public opinion. But the current legislature's party consultation mechanism defines 3 seats in the Legislature as a caucus, and the KMT with 64 seats as a caucus. No distinction is made between the two. The democratic principle of majority rule is gone. The majority of the public behind the majority party goes unrepresented. Naturally majority voters feel frustrated. Worse still, according to the "Organic Law of the Legislative Yuan." consultations must be videotaped in toto and be made part of the official record. But this requirement has become a mere formality. It has never been implemented. This has thrown the doors wide open to ruling and opposition party backroom deals. Bills are passed in smoke-filled backrooms. They are neither made public nor subject to oversight. Scandals follow, one after the other. This has serious side-effects. This totally undermines the committees' normal legislative procedure, responsibility, and professional review. The quality of legislation has declined precipitously.

The Legislative Yuan has a Disciplinary Committee. It has clearly defined punishments for disciplinary violations. But everyone from the Speaker of the Legislature on down, operates on the basis of "one hand washes the other" Mafia ethics. It has not functioned normally for years. This has resulted in hordes of opposition legislators occupying the podium, and committing assault and battery. Yet never once has any of them ever been referred to the Disciplinary Committee. The legislature's self-regulatory mechanism is worthless. As a result, the majority cannot make decisions. Disruptions cannot be prevented. Consultations remain opaque. Discipline cannot be imposed. The system remains riddled with defects. The KMT governs ineffectively. Whom should be blamed? 

Most media polls are unfavorable to President Ma. Many in the KMT are defecting. Some are attempting to effect a reconciliation between Ma and Wang. But we hope President Ma will uphold justice and refuse to retreat. We call on the people to offer their support and to transcend partisanship. Use this rare opportunity to address the problem, to bring order out of chaos, and to restore the legislature to its normal functions.

社論-國會功能正常化 更是大是大非
中國時報 本報訊 2013年09月26日 04:10








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