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Taiwan premier survives no-confidence vote

Publication Date : 23-09-2012


Taiwan Premier Sean Chen survived a no-confidence vote yesterday, but some ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers warned him against complacency, giving his Cabinet three months to improve Taiwan's economy.

The no-confidence motion jointly launched by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union was defeated 66-46 — a much expected outcome from the KMT-dominated 113-seat Legislature.

“We need your support,” said Chen after the vote, promising reforms to revitalise Taiwan's weak economy — a major reason for the opposition's campaign to topple the Cabinet.

President Ma Ying-jeou called Chen immediately after the vote, telling him to increase Taiwan's economic competitiveness, and urged all Cabinet members to pay close attention to public opinion, presidential spokesman Fang Chiang Tai-chi said.

But such a reform promise could hardly convince the opposition camp.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said that the KMT voted down the no-confidence motion against public opinion.

People have been unable to find an outlet for their anger, and they are now being forced to take to the streets, he said. “Toppling the Cabinet would have been the only way to save the economy.”

DPP caucus whip Pan Meng-an said the vote result clearly showed that KMT lawmakers were willing to bow to Ma's personal will against public opinion.

The DPP is not ruling out the possibility of taking to the streets to drive out the premier, Pan said.

Another DPP caucus whip, Legislator Tsai Chi-chang, said his party will now step up its monitoring of government budgets.

The TSU caucus' deputy convener, Legislator Lin Shih-chia, said the people's anger toward the government remains despite the failure of the no-confidence motion.

The Cabinet must make major personnel changes, or the TSU will stage a boycott to stall the Legislature's plenary meeting Tuesday, he warned.

Legislator Lee Tung-hao, caucus leader of the People First Party — which is usually an ally of the KMT, but chose to support the action against the premier this time — said his party may take to the streets to step up pressure on the Cabinet.

Before the poll, Lee said the PFP was disappointed by the government's refusal to answer to his party's calls for keeping the commodity price increase under 2 per cent this year and the unemployment rate among young people below 9 per cent.
All 64 KMT legislators voted against the motion, but some of them said they were only giving the Cabinet a three-month probation during which it must improve the nation's economy.

KMT Legislators Huang Chao-shun and Chen Shei-saint said they were toeing the party line this time, but the financial and economic officials in the Cabinet must face consequences if there is no improvement of the economy. Chen likened the support for the Cabinet to gambling. “We're waiting to see if we can hit the jackpot at the end of the year,” he said.

All legislators showed up for the voting, except for the DPP's Kuan Bi-ling, who was in South Korea for her daughter's wedding.

The motion was initiated right after the Legislature returned from its summer break on September 18.

The DPP said it initiated the motion because Chen's Cabinet is a “scarecrow” that has no real power over policy or personnel appointments, with President Ma controlling everything.

It is the Cabinet that has placed Taiwan in dire economic straits, the DPP said.

The DPP and the TSU combined for 42 votes, and extra support came from the PFP, which posted three votes in favour of the motion.

The other vote in favour of the motion was from Legislator Yen Chin-piao of the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union. He claimed he had wanted to cast a nay vote but made a mistake because he was unfamiliar with the voting procedure.

The KMT holds 64 seats in the Legislature; the DPP has 40; the TSU and the PFP each hold three seats; while the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union has two seats. The last seat is held by an independent lawmaker.

Under the Constitution, three days after a no-confidence motion is proposed, lawmakers have 48 hours to vote on it by means of an open ballot.

If more than half of the lawmakers vote in favour of the no-confidence motion, the premier will be required to resign within 10 days. At the same time, the premier may request the president to dissolve the Legislature.

If the no-confidence motion fails, lawmakers must wait another full year before they can bring another motion against the same premier.


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