Monday, July 28, 2014

Priorities for legislative session differ

NOMINEES V ELECTIONS:Passage of the Control Yuan nominations tops the KMT’s list for the second extraordinary session, while the DPP is prioritizing an election-related bill
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have different priorities in the extraordinary two-week legislative session that opens to today, with the KMT likely to focus on passing the review of Control Yuan nominees

The review tops the 18-item agenda proposed by the KMT, followed by a special statute on governing the free economic pilot zones and a statute on oversight of the cross-strait agreements.

With the advantage of its legislative majority, the KMT could see its proposed agenda pass as early as today in the Procedural Committee or no later than the plenary session tomorrow — if the DPP, which presides over today’s committee meeting according to the rotating mechanism, prevents the agenda from being passed today.

Due to controversies over several of the nominees and the DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union’s efforts to block the voting during the first extraordinary legislative session, the Control Yuan review was not passed, but President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as KMT chairman, has made clear that he wants the review to be passed as soon as possible.

Whether the KMT can be successful in the new session could be dependent upon the DPP’s strategy. The party has maintained that it would hold the nominees to the highest possible standard and will not pass the all the nominees.

The DPP has also decided to focus on a proposed amendment to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) that would allow independent candidates taking part in any election send ballot examiners to every polling station on the election day.

The initiative appears to be aimed at helping DPP-backed independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in the November elections. Ko has said that as the law stands, only his KMT rival, Sean Lien (連勝文), would be able the only one of the four candidates to have ballot examiners at polling stations because the other three are not affiliated with a political party

The proposed amendment to Article 59 of the act would also cover candidates running for city councilor or borough chief, DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said yesterday.

At present, the law stipulates that if multiple municipal-level elections are held on the same day, only political parties that fielded candidates in the mayoral election would be able to send ballot examiners.

“Which means, in the case of Taipei, only the KMT —the DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union nor the New Party — would not be able to send ballot examiners to polling stations and that is obviously unfair,” Lee said.

DPP caucus director-general Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the caucus is hoping to pass the amendment during the extra session.

KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), said the party is open to Ko being able to have ballot examiners in the Taipei race, but does not agree that all candidates should be allowed to send their own examiners, since it would cost the government more money in election expenses.