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Hundreds protest at Legislature ahead of likely passage of reform bills

05/28/2024 03:03 PM
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CNA photo May 28, 2024
CNA photo May 28, 2024

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Hundreds of people gathered outside the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday to protest legislative reform bills crafted by opposition parties that were expected to be passed into law later in the day.

The demonstration on Taipei's Jinan Road was the latest in a series of protests since May 17 against legislative reform bills sponsored by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) caucus and drafted with the Taiwan People's Party (TPP).

Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) called on the KMT and the TPP to "shelve" the draft "Contempt of the Legislature" clause -- a major source of contention -- which has passed a second reading but not a final third reading needed to become law.

The proposed addition to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power says that officials being questioned by lawmakers must not give false statements, provide answers that go beyond the scope of the question, or engage in "reverse-questioning" of lawmakers.

Those who are found to be in violation of this rule could face a fine of between NT$20,000 to NT$200,000 (US$623 to US$6,230) and could be subject to repeated fines where applicable, the draft revision said.

● Amendment criminalizing contempt of Legislature passes into law

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● Taiwan lawmakers have passed contentious reform bills. Now what?

Update: Cabinet to have Legislature reconsider 'unconstitutional' amendments (June 6)

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus and critics of the provision have argued that the proposal does not define what would constitute "reverse-questioning," and even if it did, it would curtail freedom of speech and therefore be "undemocratic."

At a May 23 press conference held by the KMT and attended by foreign news outlets, KMT Legislator Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) was asked by a Deutsche Welle reporter to define "reverse-questioning."

He said the term referred to when an official did not answer a question asked but instead replied "what are you asking about?"

He then said the party would "explain it to the public after the law is passed," a comment that drew heavy criticism.

Wu backtracked the next day, saying he meant that his party would use court verdicts on "Contempt of Legislature" cases after the bill has passed as examples when explaining the idea to the public.

CNA photo May 28, 2024
CNA photo May 28, 2024

Also at the demonstration, Citizen Congress Watch executive director Leo Chang (張宏林) argued that the proposed revisions by the opposition parties on expanding the Legislature's investigative powers and its right to hold hearings were poorly conceived.

Chang said they should have proposed a new piece of legislation crafted exclusively for that aim or at least added a new chapter focused on that cause under the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power, as recommended in a study published by the Legislature's Organic Laws and Statute Bureau in March.

Because of the way the law on the Legislature is compartmentalized, the method adopted by the opposition caucuses of amending existing provisions "could cause confusion in the system," Chang said, citing the study.

A series of protests against the bills have been planned throughout the day and are to take place across Taiwan, including one on the offshore Penghu County.

(By Sean Lin)

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CNA photo May 28, 2024
CNA photo May 28, 2024

May 22: Amendments on Legislature investigative rights pass 2nd reading

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May 18: Amid chaos, bills on president's report to Legislature closer to passage

May 17: Legislature in chaos over legislative reform bills

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