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Thousands protest outside Legislature as reform bills pass

05/29/2024 12:04 AM
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CNA photo May 28, 2024
CNA photo May 28, 2024

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Around 70,000 demonstrators gathered around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Tuesday evening as the Legislature passed all amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power, mostly proposed by opposition parties.

A bill to amend the Criminal Code to subject those found in contempt of the Legislature -- by making false statements -- to criminal proceedings also passed the third reading.

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

As of 9:25 p.m., the number of protesters reached 70,000, filling the streets around the Legislative Yuan and even leading the police to expand the protest zone by blocking four traffic lanes on Zhongshan South Road, according to the organizers of the protest, which included civil groups such as the Taiwan Economic Democracy Union and Taiwan Citizen Front.

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

Holding placards with slogans such as "I hold the Legislature in contempt," the protesters -- some of whom had been outside the Legislature since early morning -- gathered to voice their opposition to the "legislative reform bills" proposed by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) to expand the Legislature's power to oversee the government.

However, the newly elected Legislature, where the KMT and TPP hold a majority over the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), passed the third reading of the amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power, including imposing fines for contempt of the Legislature, amid protests by DPP lawmakers at 5 p.m.

Legislation in Taiwan must pass three readings to become law.

Amendment criminalizing contempt of Legislature passes into law

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

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

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

Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), convener of Taiwan Economic Democracy Union, said that after the amendments passed a third reading, the Executive Yuan should send them back for a second vote by the Legislature.

The civic groups also called on the executive branch of the government and the DPP legislative caucus to seek a constitutional interpretation regarding the constitutionality of aspects of the amendments, as well as demand a meeting with the Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the KMT, Lai added.

Among the thousands of protesters, 30-year-old mom Chang En-rong (張恩榕) said that it had been expected that the bills would pass the third reading but described members of the opposition parties as "shameless" since they disregarded procedural justice.

"They didn't review the bills line by line. It was like a patchwork, with each version (of the bills) even having things that are contradictory," said the mother of three who drove all the way from Taichung to join the protest.

Chang En-rong, 30, brings her 4-month-old son to the demonstration around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo May 28, 2024
Chang En-rong, 30, brings her 4-month-old son to the demonstration around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo May 28, 2024

Carrying her youngest son, Chang said that the oppositions parties are "utilizing the mechanism of democracy to undermine democracy itself" as they ignore the needs and voices of the minority.

Having participated in the Wild Lily student movement in 1990 in Taiwan, Tim Lee (李景白) said he was in a bad mood after the amendments passed, due to the process being unreasonable and lacking sufficient discussion, a frequent DPP complaint.

He added that the reason he stayed after the third reading was to "tell you (the opposition) that I am furious about it."

"I don't think this matter will stop; it's just the beginning. There will be ongoing conflict between the executive and legislative branches," the 60-year-old photographer said.

Tim Lee, 60, holds a placard saying "Return the Bill for Substantive Review," when attending a protest around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo May 28, 2024
Tim Lee, 60, holds a placard saying "Return the Bill for Substantive Review," when attending a protest around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo May 28, 2024

After the amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature's Power cleared the Legislature, KMT legislative caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) said that 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.

KMT caucus secretary-general Hung Mong-kai (洪孟楷) said that the powers gained from the reform bills will lead to the government being more open and transparent, adding that public opinion in Taiwan supports the just passed parliamentary reforms.

(By Sunny Lai)

Enditem/AW

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