LY passes reform bills as thousands protest

29 May, 2024

Courtesy of ICRT


Lawmakers have passed all amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power and voted to amend the Criminal Code to subject those found in contempt of the Legislature to criminal proceedings.


The third reading of amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power passed its final reading at 17:00 on Tuesday with no changes being made to amendments that passed their second reading during.


The amendments included new rules "inviting" the president to deliver an annual state of the nation address to the Legislature and indicating the president shall respond to lawmakers' questions immediately after making the address.


The amendments also give the Legislature new investigative powers to hold hearings, which include potentially imposing penalties on public officials and related individuals if they refuse to attend or provide information.


The bill to amend the Criminal Code to subject those found in contempt of the legislature to criminal proceedings passed a third reading at 10:53 last night.


It includes regulations on how public officials respond to lawmakers' questions during regular interpellations in the Legislature - and officials who fail to respond or provide information can be fined up to NT$200,000.


Some 70,000 protesters had gathered around the Legislative Yuan as lawmakers were voting on the bills. The protest was organized by the civil groups including the Taiwan Economic Democracy Union and Taiwan Citizen Front.


Protest organizers say the cabinet should send the amended bill back for a second vote in the Legislative Yuan and both the executive branch of the government and the DPP legislative caucus should seek a constitutional interpretation of the bills.


Meanwhile, the Presidential Office is bemoaning passage of the parliamentary reform bills. Office spokeswoman Guo Ya-hui said President Lai Ching-te still hopes the government and opposition can continue to debate the bills and make adjustments if warranted.


The Presidential Office spokeswoman said Lai believes lawmakers should respond to the demands of the people regarding the reform bills and the government doesn't believe passage of the bills meets with the "expectations of Taiwanese society. She went on to say the DPP will seek a constitutional interpretation on the constitutionality of the contents of the amendments.


DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming is describing passage of the bills as "the darkest day" in Taiwan's democratic history.

However, KMT legislative caucus whip Fu Kun-chi says Taiwan has finally caught up with the global trend of democracy, as the power to hold hearings and conduct investigations is readily available in many other countries while KMT caucus secretary-general Hung Mong-kai says passage of the reform bills means the government will be forced to more open and transparent – and public opinion in Taiwan supports the reforms.


Taiwan People's Party Chairman Ko Wen-je says passage of the parliamentary reform bills will give Taiwan a "more robust system of government" and is "a milestone in the history of Taiwan's democracy."


Ko said he "never imagined" the DPP would try to block the reforms, many of which it supported during its time in opposition.


According to Ko, the question of reforming the legislature has been under discussion "for 30 years" and the Legislature has never received suitable authority, leaving lawmakers unable to effectively supervise or investigate other parts of the government.


Ko went on to say that DPP turned the Legislature into a "rubber stamp" for the Tsai administration over the past eight years and failed to investigate government controversies.

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