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Taiwan president distressed over failed beef vote

Publication Date : 16-06-2012


Taiwan's Legislative Yuan failed to vote on the so-called beef amendments before its formal recess at 6 p.m. yesterday.

President Ma Ying-jeou supports starting an emergency legislative session immediately, said presidential spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi.
The president is “regretful and distressed” that opposition lawmakers have paralyzed the Legislative Yuan, said Fan Chiang.

Ma supports convening an emergency session of the Legislative Yuan as soon as possible, Fan Chiang continued.

The Kuomintang (KMT) legislative caucus said late yesterday that it will initiate a motion for convening an emergency legislative session next week.

For months, Ma has actively lobbied for legislators to pass amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation that would open Taiwan's borders to US beef containing ractopamine.

But the Executive Yuan is not considering the use of executive order to force open borders to beef, said Executive Yuan spokesman Hu Yu-wei yesterday.

Earlier, Premier Sean Chen had told reporters that an executive order is a legal option, but that revising law through the Legislature is the “most safe way” to resolve the impasse.

The amendments have faced tremendous opposition from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and minor parties, who on Monday launched a 120-hour filibuster to prevent a plenary vote on the amendments.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (said that he has “severe condemnation” for DPP lawmakers.

“Since June 8, DPP legislators have occupied the speaker's rostrum, obstructing the normal operations of the Legislative Yuan. The Legislative Yuan has been unable to deal with a number of important laws, and for that I issue the most severe condemnation,” he said.

The opposition party should use “rational discourse instead of the overbearing filibuster,” and “policy debate instead of antagonistic confrontation,” he said.

The Legislature let out at 6 p.m. on Friday. Just prior, some 50 KMT legislators appeared on the plenary floor for a final offensive.

At 5:30 p.m., Chiang Huei-chen, Lin Te-fu and other KMT legislators began a march to the rostrum.

“Open the meeting. Open the meeting,” the KMT lawmakers said in unison.

In response, DPP legislators tapped the rostrum with the speaker's gavel to create a steady beat and chanted “Opposition to inflation, opposition to dictatorship, opposition to ractopamine.”

Legislators called out to each other for a full two minutes before the KMT broke formation.

KMT lawmakers Chen Shu-huey, Lo Ming-tsai and Lu Hsueh-chang clambered onto tabletops and waved placards with slogans. Lu then tried to mount the rostrum, but was pushed off by DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang. Nearby lawmakers quickly prised them apart.

The altercation slowed around 6 p.m.. By 6:05 p.m., KMT legislators had cleared out from the chamber. At 6:10 p.m., DPP legislators began to gather up signs, untwine cables from the speaker's chair, tidy up furniture and disperse.

The KMT caucus knows clearly that these attacks have absolutely no real meaning, said People First Party's Thomas Lee yesterday.

For KMT lawmakers, saying yes to US beef has no concrete benefits, but plenty of immediate disadvantages, according to Lee.

With issues from the stock gains tax to beef, Ma has glaringly demonstrated his inability control his own party within Legislature, he said.

“To some extent, Ma Ying-jeou is already a lame duck,” said Lee.

Early June, the KMT caucus ruled that party members must back the beef amendments, but a number of KMT lawmakers were slow to publicly commit their ballot to the party line.


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