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Cabinet to have Legislature reconsider 'unconstitutional' amendments

06/06/2024 05:20 PM
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The Executive Yuan compound in Taipei. CNA file photo
The Executive Yuan compound in Taipei. CNA file photo

Taipei, June 6 (CNA) The Executive Yuan is preparing to have the Legislature reconsider recently passed amendments aimed at improving government checks and balances on the grounds they are "unconstitutional" and "difficult to implement."

Minister without Portfolio Lin Ming-hsin (林明昕) told a press briefing Thursday that the Cabinet found the measures passed on May 28 by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) lawmakers, who form a majority in the Legislature, "difficult to implement."

He said the Cabinet was preparing, pending the president's approval, to request that lawmakers reconsider those revisions in accordance with Article 3-2 (2) of the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China.

Lin was referring to the measures that would give 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, or present false information.

Lin argued that those measures contradicted past Constitutional Court interpretations, according to which the exercise of investigative and hearing powers must be restrained.

Furthermore, the measures stipulate that public officials failing to comply will be deemed guilty of contempt and subject to imprisonment, but lack a clear definition of what constitutes contempt, Lin said.

He added that the punishments set out by the amendments contravened constitutionally enshrined principles of proportionality.

Lin also called amendments requiring the president's presence at the Legislative Yuan to give an annual state of the nation address and then take questions from the floor unconstitutional, saying it was not in line with Taiwan's current semi-presidential system.

On top of that, he continued, the deliberation that led up to the passage of the measures "lacked substantive discussions" in the Legislature and therefore "violated democratic principles."

Lin said the amendments to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power and the Criminal Code were approved through "unconstitutional procedures," and that those revisions, regardless of their justifiability, remained unconstitutional.

The amendments seeking greater oversight of the president's and Cabinet's powers have caused brawls in the Legislature and sparked heated debate in Taiwanese society over the past few weeks.

● DPP may seek constitutional interpretation on legislative reform bills

● KMT vows to step up anti-corruption efforts with law revisions

● Legislative reforms will strengthen Taiwan's democracy: Ko Wen-je

● Thousands protest outside Legislature as reform bills pass

● Reform bills fail to reflect public expectations: Presidential Office

Although the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has vehemently opposed the revisions, it advocated for increased oversight of the executive branch of the government while in opposition. However, the party has sidelined this issue since coming into power in 2016.

The KMT and TPP, meanwhile, maintain that the revisions have followed due process and are a necessary reform, particularly in light of previous allegations of corruption and wrongdoing arising from the DPP government's major policies and investment projects across various sectors.

The Constitution stipulates that if the Executive Yuan finds a bill passed by the Legislative Yuan difficult to execute, it can, provided that it has the president's approval, request the Legislature's reconsideration within 10 days of receiving the bill.

Presidential Office spokesperson Kuo Ya-hui (郭雅慧) said that President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) would make a decision after a careful assessment, once receiving the request from the Executive Yuan.

Within 15 days of receiving the Cabinet's request, the Legislature must vote on whether to uphold the passage of the bill. If the Legislature fails to reach a resolution within this period, the bill will become invalid.

● A review of past Cabinet attempts to reject Legislature law revisions

At Thursday's briefing, Cabinet spokesperson Chen Shi-kai (陳世凱) cited Premier Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) as saying earlier the same day that the Cabinet's plan was not meant to escalate division and conflict between the ruling and opposition parties.

Rather, it is hoped that the Legislature will reexamine the content of the passed amendments and ensure they align with the Constitution and national interests, according to Chen.

In response to a reporter's question about whether the Cabinet will bring this case to the Constitutional Court if the Legislature ends up upholding the passage of the amendments, Lin declined to give a clear answer, saying it was "too early" to consider such a "hypothetical" question.

Apart from the Cabinet, the DPP can also have its lawmakers request a ruling from the Constitutional Court on the revisions' constitutionality.

(By Teng Pei-ju and Wen Kuei-hsiang)

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