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Third reading of major part of 'legislative reform' bills passed

05/28/2024 09:32 PM
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Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (center, in suit). CNA photo May 28, 2024
Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (center, in suit). CNA photo May 28, 2024

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) The Legislature on Tuesday passed the third reading of amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power, including imposing fines for contempt of the Legislature and a provision whereby the president will be "invited" to give an annual report to the Legislature.

The third reading of the amendments to the Law started around 4 p.m. amid ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers' protests, with Speaker Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) striking the gavel at 5 p.m.

During the third reading no changes were made to amendments that passed their second reading.

The third reading on Tuesday came after the second reading of most of the amendment proposals to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power proposed by the KMT and the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) passed during the last three legislative floor sessions on May 17, 21 and 24.

State of nation address

They 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 on the spot after making the address, as well as regulations delineating how public officials respond to lawmakers' questions during regular interpellations in the Legislature.

If a public official is questioned but fails to comply with the new regulations -- by refusing to respond, provide information, or engaging in "reverse questioning" or other behavior deemed to be in contempt of the Legislature -- after being warned, he or she can be fined between NT$20,000 (US$620) and NT$200,000.

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

Investigation, hearings

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

Legal persons, associations, and related individuals who refuse to provide, delay in providing, or conceal related information when asked can be fined between NT$10,000 and NT$100,000 if approved by a legislative resolution.

If statements provided by related individuals asked to provide testimony are found to be false, the individuals can be fined between NT$20,000 and NT$200,000 with the approval of the Legislature. Public officials and civil servants whose testimony is found to be false will be sent to the Control Yuan for corrective discipline or impeachment and bear criminal responsibility.

CNA photo May 28, 2024
CNA photo May 28, 2024
DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (third right) and lawmakers of the ruling party. CNA photo May 28, 2024
DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (third right) and lawmakers of the ruling party. CNA photo May 28, 2024

Dozens of DPP lawmakers spoke on the floor after the third reading.

DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that Tuesday was "the darkest day" in Taiwan's democratic history, while his DPP colleague Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the party will call for a constitutional interpretation of the passed amendment bills.

Puma Shen (沈伯洋), another DPP legislator, said the amended law will be "difficult to operate" as there was no substantive discussion over various details.

"For example, we say those summoned to testify can refuse to do so if national secrets are involved, but there is nothing in the law that stipulates a need to inform the summoned of their rights," Shen said, adding that "the amended law says the summoned can be accompanied by lawyers, but that has to be first approved by the chair."

Before the session started, KMT legislative caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) told the media outside the chamber that he hoped the DPP would follow mainstream public opinion and not try to stall proceedings.

"Today is a very important day for Taiwan's democracy, as legislative reforms that have been advocated for 30 years are expected to pass their third reading," TPP Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said at a press conference before entering the chamber.

(By Alison Hsiao and Liu Kuan-ting)

Enditem/AW

Update

June 6: Cabinet to have Legislature reconsider 'unconstitutional' amendments

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

May 28: Amendment criminalizing contempt of Legislature passes into law

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

Related News

May 27: DPP may seek constitutional interpretation on legislative reform bills

May 26: KMT lawmaker calls for Lai to hold cross-party talks on controversial bills

May 24

● Revisions boosting Legislature's investigative powers pass 2nd reading

● Amendments to give Legislature right to hold hearings pass 2nd reading

● Protesters, supporters of reform bills gather outside Legislature

● Ruling, opposition parties continue to fight over reform bill review

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

May 21: Protesters call for transparency regarding 'legislative reform bills'

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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