by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Eric Chu/Facebook

A RECENT ISSUE facing the KMT has involved alleged voting irregularities in the legislature on the issue of pension reform.

At present, the KMT is seeking to rollback pension reforms passed by the Tsai administration. Namely, members of the police, military, teachers, and public servants, were paid generous pensions by the KMT in return for political loyalty during authoritarian times.

As such, members of such groups came to constitute a political elite class. The Tsai administration cut pensions in order to avoid the pension system going bankrupt, however. This led to protests from affected groups, most prominently members of a pan-Blue grouping that termed themselves the “800 Heroes,” and who were mostly former veterans.

Protests by the “800 Heroes” included attempts to occupy the Taiwanese legislature that were not successful, but in fact resulted in fatal injuries to one demonstrator. To this extent, the “800 Heroes” lashed out at journalists that they viewed as unsympathetic to their perspectives, injuring 14 journalists on one occasion.

Attempts by the “800 Heroes” to occupy the Taiwanese legislature can be situated in the context of a number of attempts by the KMT to replicate what they viewed as the successful tactics of the DPP that led to the 2014 Sunflower Movement. This evidenced a view of the movement as a stratagem of the DPP and that the pan-Blue camp would find similar success through similar tactics. But the broader public disinterest in supporting the “800 Heroes”’ views can be observed in how there was not a strong public backlash even after the death that occurred during the occupation attempts.

The current controversy at hand, however, circles around KMT legislator Sasuyu Ruljuwan being accounted for in voting on pension-related bills despite not having been present in the legislature. Ruljuwan, by his own account, was visiting China at the time for an exchange with Chinese ethnic minority groups. As Ruljuwan is Indigenous, this event was likely one of the many efforts by the CCP to appeal to Taiwanese Indigenous through exchanges with Chinese ethnic minorities, aiming to show the benefits that Taiwanese Indigenous could have through unity with China. Yet Ruljuwan was listed as having voted in the first round of voting but not the second or third rounds, in spite of not having signed in for the day.

KMT Legislative Yuan president Han Kuo-yu. Photo credit: Han Kuo-yu/Facebook

The vote count would not have changed the outcome, which proved a close vote between the DPP and KMT, seeing as Legislative Yuan president Han Kuo-yu of the KMT would have broken a tie between the two caucuses. By contrast, the TPP legislative caucus abstained from the vote. Nevertheless, the DPP accused the KMT of vote-rigging afterward.

The KMT has ventured explanations mostly involving human error, in that a staffer may have accidentally accounted for Ruljuwan or mistaken him for another legislator. Yet the DPP has increasingly focused fire on the KMT–and in particular on Han Kuo-yu–with accusations of circumventing regular legislative procedure. For example, Han was previously criticized for ending a round of legislative questioning early, to declare it over.

In part, the DPP would be leveraging on Han’s checkered political reputation, in that Han was known for his gaffes, public missteps, and sometimes ignorance of the norms and regulations of governance.

At the same time, such criticisms from the DPP are likely an attempt to leverage on criticisms of past KMT legislatures for lacking transparency and circumvention of legislative review measures. This proves especially salient shortly after the tenth anniversary of the 2014 Sunflower Movement. The movement broke out in part because of public anger over the “black box” means by which the KMT sought to pass the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement with China, in that a wide-ranging trade agreement that would have allowed for Chinese investment in Taiwan’s service sector was passed in less than thirty seconds without committee review. The DPP likely aims to stoke outrage against the KMT in this way, with the KMT potentially overplaying its hand using its current slim majority in the legislature if it inadvertently stokes public outrage for using this position of power to force bills through. It is to be seen if this takes place, though the KMT is expected to continue to leverage on its narrow advantage in the legislature.

No more articles