Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Farmers Associations: KMT says no revision of new law

I've been tracking this shameful power grab by the KMT involving the farmers' associations the last few days (long article and update), and today the Taipei Times came out with a nice bit of analysis on this issue:

Two newly passed amendments that would allow directors of farmers and fishermen' associations to stay in their posts indefinitely have shown that the organizations -- meant to be dedicated to the service of farmers and fishermen -- still have strong political overtones.

"I actually disapprove of the changes contained in the two amendments because they are regressive policies," a member of a farmers' association in Taipei County told the Taipei Times on the sidelines of a meeting on Friday.

There are around three hundred of these organizations in Taiwan, and 200 of their directors rallied to the call of the pro-China parties to support weakened safeguards for the organizations:

The meeting, attended by approximately 200 directors of the associations across the country, was called by a group of pan-blue lawmakers in a bid to discourage the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) plan to reconsider the approved bills.

Hsiao Han-chun (蕭漢俊), director of the Kaohsiung County Farmers' Association, argued against overturning the amendments at the meeting.

"A professor can teach in a college for 20 to 30 years, and a manager can run a company for a long time if they do their job well. Why can't we have an indefinite term?" Hsiao said.

The Taipei Times analysis also discussed the new changes in greater detail:

Under the old law, the directors may have their term of office extended once. To qualify for a second renewal, they would have to earn a performance rating of "excellent." This requirement has been lowered to a rating of "good" -- the second-highest level in a scale of five -- under the amendment.

The previous law also stipulated that association staffers who have been indicted and convicted during a second trial should be fired from their posts. This has been changed to not relieving association staffers who are standing trial until a final verdict is rendered.

"As a result of the revisions, about 90 percent of directors who earned ratings of `good' would be able to hold on their position in the association indefinitely," said Woo Rhung-jieh (吳榮杰), a professor at National Taiwan University.

The vast majority of the directors are pro-KMT, and form an important power base for the "former" ruling party.

In a separate article, the newspaper noted that the KMT will not reconsider the proposed law.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) yesterday said the party would not support a reconsideration of the two amendments to the Farmers Association Law (農會法) and the Fishermen Association Law (漁會法) that critics said would pave the way for the "return of black gold politics." She said the decision was made by a group of seven party members in charge of studying the feasibility of overturning the two passed amendments, adding that the party's final position on the issue would need to be approved during today's caucus meeting.

Obviously the system is in desperate need of reform, but nothing will occur until the DPP gets control of the legislature.

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