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Reform bills fail to reflect public expectations: Presidential Office

05/29/2024 04:31 PM
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Demonstrators outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo May 28, 2024
Demonstrators outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo May 28, 2024

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) The Presidential Office believes the Legislative Yuan's passage of controversial amendments to strengthen its powers of investigation does not reflect the common expectations of society, it said Tuesday after the revisions were passed.

"The Legislature is a symbol of democracy and should stand with the people and safeguard democratic values, and the president is the guardian of democracy and constitutional government," said Presidential Office spokesperson Kuo Ya-hui (郭雅慧).

"President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) therefore hopes that for major controversial bills that draw public concern, there will be room for ongoing dialogue and mediation between the ruling and opposition parties on the measures even after they passed," Kuo said.

The revisions passed Tuesday 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.

They also would require the president to present a report to the Legislature every year and answer questions after the address.

The bills were passed by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), which with 52 and eight seats, respectively, in the 113-seat Legislature hold a majority over the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which has 51 seats.

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At the same time as the new Legislature was elected on Jan. 13, Lai won the presidency with about 40 percent of the vote, with the remaining 60 percent split between the KMT and TPP candidates.

To voice opposition to the bills, a series of demonstrations were held by different civic groups across Taiwan on Tuesday.

In Taipei, civic groups claimed that as of 9:25 p.m. around 70,000 people had gathered around the Legislative Yuan, and they called on the Executive Yuan to send the amendments back for a second vote by the Legislature.

They also urged the executive branch of the government and the DPP legislative caucus to seek a constitutional interpretation regarding the constitutionality of aspects of the amendments.

A petition for a constitutional interpretation can be lodged by a quarter or more of incumbent legislators.

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Beyond mentioning Lai's call for ongoing dialogue, Kuo was noncommittal on the Executive Yuan's potential plan to have the Legislature reconsider the measures.

Premier Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said Tuesday night that after receiving the amendments passed by the Legislative Yuan, the Executive Yuan will study whether to request that they be returned to the Legislature for review in accordance with the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan's official name).

Under the Constitution, once bills are passed in the Legislature, the Executive Yuan can return them, with the approval of the president, to the Legislature for reconsideration within 10 days from the date when the passed bills are submitted to the Executive Yuan.

On the issue of the Executive Yuan studying whether to recommend that the measures be reconsidered, Kuo said the Presidential Office "respected" this action and will carefully respond and handle the matter in accordance with the law.

DPP spokesperson Cho Kuan-ting (卓冠廷), meanwhile, said in a press release that his party supports its caucus' plan to request a constitutional interpretation concerning the content of the revisions and the procedures used to pass them.

Criticizing the legislative approaches adopted by the KMT and the TPP, Cho argued that the two parties violated procedural justice and disregarded democracy and said they will ultimately face a backlash from public opinion in the future.

(By Sunny Lai)

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> Chinese Version

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