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DPP may seek constitutional interpretation on legislative reform bills

05/27/2024 10:02 PM
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DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming. CNA photo May 27, 2024
DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming. CNA photo May 27, 2024

Taipei, May 27 (CNA) The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will seek a constitutional interpretation if the hotly debated reform bills, proposed by two opposition parties with a majority of seats in the Legislature, pass a third reading unchanged, a lawmaker from the ruling party said Monday.

DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) made the vow one day before a set of law amendments aimed at boosting the Legislature's oversight powers might be passed into law by passing a third reading at a meeting of the full Legislature.

If passed, the "legislative reform" bills would grant substantial "investigative powers" to lawmakers, who can currently only ask for documents from government agencies.

Ker said the DPP will ask for a constitutional interpretation on two issues: the constitutionality of the contents of the amendments and the constitutionality of the legislative procedures used in handling the revisions before they were enacted.

The required procedures that Ker argued were not in line with the Constitution were committee reviews and the way the votes were counted.

On Sunday, Ker cited constitutional interpretation No. 585 and said that the ruling makes it clear lawmakers only have the right to ask for documents from government agencies.

The amendments proposed by the Kuomintang and the Taiwan People's Party are therefore "undoubtedly unconstitutional" as they would reduce the balance of powers between the different branches of government under the Constitution into a single power, the Legislative Yuan, he argued.

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The DPP's stance was backed by over 30 legal scholars from national and private universities and Academia Sinica, the most prestigious research institution in Taiwan.

In a joint statement issued Monday, the scholars asked the Legislative Yuan to send the bills back for committee review and consult experts in related fields to come up with a highly consensual and constitutional system, given what they called the contradictions in the reform bills and flaws in the voting process.

They also said that ambiguous descriptions remained in the proposed revisions and should be further defined, or else problems are certain to surface in the future, they said.

The scholars said they will urge the Cabinet to ask President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who doubles as the DPP chairman, to use his veto power should the Legislature pass the third readings of the amendments.

No change is guaranteed, however, even if Lai does veto the bills, because they will be sent back to the Legislature for a second review.

According to the additional articles of the Constitution amended in 1997, the Legislative Yuan must re-discuss the bills within 15 days after they are sent back.

Lawmakers can then decide to resubmit the bills unchanged as long as they are supported by more than half of the 113 lawmakers, at which point the premier and president have to accept the legislation.

(By Lin Ching-yin, Hsu Chih-wei, and Chao Yen-hsiang)

Enditem/AW

> Chinese Version

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