Legislators fight, hundreds protest as controversial nominees confirmed

Taipei,  Taiwan’s Legislature on Friday broke out in scuffles and water balloon throwing — the third fight in the past two weeks — but lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) eventually managed to approve the controversial appointments of all 27 nominees to the government watchdog body Control Yuan, including former presidential aide Chen Chu (陳菊) as its president, as hundreds of people opposed to the nominations protested outside.

Chen, a former mayor of Kaohsiung and former secretary-general of the Presidential Office, was confirmed as president of the Control Yuan in a 65-3 vote, with two votes invalidated, in the 113-seat Legislature, in which the DPP holds a majority of the seats.

The other nominees were also confirmed after voting got underway at 9:11 a.m. Friday amid heavy protests, as lawmakers from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) tried to stop the voting over the nomination.

The KMT legislators shouted slogans and attempted to overturn ballot boxes set up at the front of the legislative chamber. When the vote closed at noon, members of the KMT lobbed water balloons at Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) and at white boards set up to tally the votes, while DPP lawmakers clad in rain ponchos attempted to shield him with large styrafoam boards.

Several hundred KMT supporters and others opposed to the nominations also rallied outside the Legislature, hurling eggs and at one point trying to breach crowd control barricades and enter the building, before being driven back by police.

Though lawmakers from the KMT abstained from voting, all 27 nominees were confirmed by noon with support from the DPP, whose 63 seats are safely above the 57-vote threshold for a simple majority.

At a press conference after the voting, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) lamented the confirmations as “an insult to democracy,” accusing You of manipulating the confirmation process and silencing voices from the opposition.

“If the DPP doesn’t listen to the opposition, they will have to face the people’s fury,” Chiang said.

“If these nominees … were capable of transcending party loyalties to exercise real oversight, there would have been no need for us to protest,” Chiang said earlier Friday.

Meanwhile, DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the KMT’s raucous attempts to derail the proceedings had shown disregard for the Legislature’s duty to provide advice and consent on nominations.

“I hope that after this … we can move forward and work in a bipartisan fashion to abolish both the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan,” Ker said, referencing proposals that both the DPP and KMT have supported in the past.

The KMT had opposed Chen’s nomination since it was announced on June 22, arguing that her longtime membership in the DPP and recent position as an aide to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) made her unfit to lead the Control Yuan, a government watchdog charged with investigating and punishing misconduct by public officials and agencies.

Chen, for her part, said she had devoted over 50 years of her life to the realization of democracy in Taiwan, and would use the leadership of the Control Yuan to safeguard human rights.

Lacking the votes to stop Chen’s appointment, the KMT seized control of the speaker’s chair on Tuesday, disrupting three days of confirmation hearings scheduled to begin that day.

On Thursday, DPP members retook the speaker’s chair after forcing their way into the chamber, and quickly passed a motion to end any debate on the nominations and move ahead with confirmation votes for the 27 Control Yuan nominees on Friday.

In addition to the KMT, several smaller parties in the Legislature on Friday also voiced their displeasure with how the confirmation process has played out.

The centrist Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which holds five seats, called on You to apologize for allowing votes on the nominees before they could be questioned by legislators.

The New Power Party (NPP), which holds three seats and often sides with the DPP, said it would ask for a judicial interpretation on whether the confirmations were valid, given that the nominees did not undergo the legally-mandated review process.

The 27 Control Yuan nominees confirmed Friday will take office on Aug. 1, and will serve six-year terms.

 

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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