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Amendments on Legislature investigative rights pass 2nd reading

05/22/2024 01:20 AM
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Taipei, May 22 (CNA) The Legislature passed the second reading of several amendments aimed at strengthening its investigative powers before concluding a lengthy plenary session that ran from 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The amendments proposed by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) rename Chapter 8 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power the "Exercise of Investigative Rights," and expand it to endow the Legislature with more comprehensive investigative powers.

The amendments allow the Legislature to establish investigative committees or task forces to exercise its investigative powers. These committees would have the authority to access documents and hold hearings, where those summoned would be required to present testimony, documents, and other relevant materials.

Such a committee or task force can only be established when the Legislature is in session, but the exercise of investigative powers and requiring access to documents is not limited to that period.

According to the amendments, the investigative committee or task force is allowed to ask for documents and files from government agencies, the military and private entities such as "legal persons, associations, and related individuals."

In addition, government agencies and public officials who refuse to provide, delay in providing, or conceal related information, would -- with the approval of the Legislature -- be punished or impeached by the Control Yuan.

The amendments state that legal persons, civil associations, or other related individuals who violate the same provision can be fined between NT$10,000 (US$310) and NT$100,000, with repeated fines possible.

Protesters gather outside the Legislature Tuesday to oppose a set of controversial bills that seek to expand legislative powers.
Protesters gather outside the Legislature Tuesday to oppose a set of controversial bills that seek to expand legislative powers.

Other amendments concerning investigative powers still need to be voted on before the floor meeting can proceed to the Criminal Code amendment bill, which seeks to criminalize "contempt of the Legislature" mentioned in the earlier amendments to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power.

The floor vote will continue on Friday.

During Tuesday's floor vote, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus held a three-minute floor discussion before each amendment proposal was put to a vote. After each three-minute speech, the floor discussion was concluded by a majority vote.

The ruling party, which criticized the lack of deliberation over the bills during the committee stage before they reached the legislative floor, again complained about the lack of discussion during Tuesday's legislative session.

Earlier in the day, the Legislature completed the second reading of other high-profile amendments to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power, regarding how "government personnel" answer lawmakers' questions and how people are nominated to key government positions.

(By Alison Hsiao)

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