Taiwan News explains the ruckus in the legislature today, and shows how, once again, the KMT is impairing the island's democratic development..... read carefully!
President Ma Ying-jeou and his right-wing Chinese Nationalist Party wrote a new dishonorable page in Taiwan history Monday by ramming a bill through the Legislative Yuan that tramples on the one of the most fundamental of democratic principles, namely the right of citizens to vote and be elected to office for fixed terms.
In a legislative session featuring incessant shoving and occasional slugging, the KMT used its nearly three-fourths majority to ram through revisions to the Local Government Act over intense resistance by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party that will allow the KMT to retain its grip over grassroots administration regardless of who wins year-end mayoral elections for five special metropolises.
The KMT revisions, notably to Article 58, overturn the draft changes approved by the KMT Cabinet last September to ensure the smooth process of upgrading the local administrations in the new "Xinbei City" (formerly Taipei County) and the mergers of Taichung City and Taichung County, Tainan City and Tainan County, and Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County.
The Cabinet's version, which had received bipartisan backing, mandated that township mayors, village chiefs and township and village assembly members would step down when the new metropolitan mayors are inaugurated and be replaced by civil service appointees, as is now the case in Taipei City and Kaohsiung City.
However, the KMT shifted gears last week in the wake of the DPP`s sweep of three legislative by-elections on January 10, allegedly due to low turnouts by KMT "mobilization" voters, in the wake of well-orchestrated pressure campaign by KMT grassroots officials who burned party cards and promised further boycotts of KMT candidates unless their future employment was guaranteed.
In the wake of sharp objections by the DPP over such an "unconstitutional" proposal and opposition and outcries of protest by citizen and indigenous rights groups, KMT Secretary-General King Pu-tsung declared final support for three different versions within as many days last week before settling on the version rammed through the Legislative Yuan yesterday.
Besides questions of the validity of the voting process as numerous KMT lawmakers gathered at the speaker's podium had their voting buttons illegally pushed by other colleagues, the KMT revisions trample on the fundamental democratic "social contract" between the electorate and their elected officials and representatives for regular elections with fixed terms.
Under the revised Article 58, over 50 urban and rural township mayors will continue in office as appointed political officials for up to four years or until the merger of their districts is substantively completed and cannot be dismissed by the incoming metropolitan mayors.
In addition, the revised Article 58-1 will mandate the appointment of former township and village assembly persons as "advisors" and paid for attendance at meetings deemed necessary for the merger process for as long as four years.
As a result, when combined with the one - year extension already mandated by revisions to the same law last year, mayors and assembly members originally elected in December 2005 for four year terms will hold their positions for as long as nine years even though their electoral mandate was only for four years.
There should be few doubts that such officials, which are almost all KMT members, will do their best to delay the completion of this process for a full four years.
Moreover, the KMT revisions will prevent DPP metropolitan mayors from breaking the hold of such KMT local officials and their networks of "black and gold money politics" or even effectively implement their administrative reform programs before the next set of presidential and legislative elections in early 2012.
It should come as no surprise that opinion polls have shown that over two-thirds of citizens of across partisan lines expressed opposition to these changes or that the KMT has decided to ram them through the Legislative Yuan for the sake of its own electoral purposes.
This decision to trample on democratic systems and values for the sake of the KMT's partisan interests is no different in spirit
from the indefinite extension by the late KMT dictator Chiang Kai-shek of the terms of parliamentary bodies elected on the China mainland pending "completion of the KMT's "sacred task" of "recovery" of the China mainland from the "bandit" Chinese Communist Party.
It should now be obvious why the DPP has been doing so well. Not only are many in the KMT fed up with the poor performance of the Ma Administration, but its local politicians, upon which the national party depends to keep its grip on the local areas, are holding the KMT to ransom over their future livelihood in local government positions. Thus, the KMT has decided to stage a raid on the treasury, as well as impair the democratic development of the island.
A disgusting power play, that also shows that there is widespread fear in the KMT of losing some of the municipal government seats. In the ROC administrative system the new municipality chiefs (mayors? governors?) will be more powerful than the county magistrates, for the municipalities are the equivalent of provinces in the ROC system. Plum positions, and the KMT appears to believe that if it can't win, at least it can obstruct....
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