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Parties to campaign across Taiwan ahead of legislative oversight bills vote

06/12/2024 10:25 PM
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DPP Secretary-General Lin Yu-chang (center) and party officials across Taiwan. CNA photo June 12, 2024
DPP Secretary-General Lin Yu-chang (center) and party officials across Taiwan. CNA photo June 12, 2024

Taipei, June 12 (CNA) Political parties and civil society groups have launched campaigns to garner public support ahead of a vote by the Legislature to determine the fate of recently passed law revisions that enhance oversight of the executive branch.

At a press conference, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said the amendments pushed through by the Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) lawmakers on May 28 were not a reform but an attempt to "expand power."

Lin said the party's rank and file would organize speeches across the country starting Friday to "let the public fully comprehend" that the legislative process of the amendments "lacked sufficient discussions" and rally them to reject the revisions.

President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who concurrently serves as the DPP chair, was also cited as saying at a party leadership meeting the same day that the campaign does not seek to sow division in society or among different parties and their supporters, according to DPP spokesperson Wu Cheng (吳崢).

Rather, the goal is to "clarify the content of the bills" by engaging with the public and providing them with "accurate information," he added.

The DPP press event came a day after the Legislature received the Cabinet's request to reconsider the revisions to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power and the Criminal Code.

The passed measures will 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.

The revisions will also require the president's presence at the Legislative Yuan to give an annual state of the nation address and then take questions from the floor.

The Cabinet has argued that the deliberations leading up to the passage of the revisions were "unconstitutional" and "constituted significant flaws" as they failed to conform to democratic principles, contravened the separation of powers and infringed on human rights enshrined in the Constitution.

However, at a separate press conference on Wednesday, TPP lawmakers rejected the Cabinet's arguments, saying the Executive Yuan had no right to interfere with the Legislature's deliberations or determine a bill's constitutionality.

TPP legislative caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang (left). CNA photo June 12, 2024
TPP legislative caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang (left). CNA photo June 12, 2024

TPP legislative caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said the party was committed to pushing for reforms in the Legislature and that it would continue communicating with the public.

However, the party has yet to decide whether it will follow in the footsteps of the DPP by launching its own campaign to rally support.

Meanwhile, the KMT will begin a nationwide tour of public speeches with the first scheduled to take place on June 15 in Tainan.

KMT legislator Hsu Yu-chen (許宇甄) told local media on Tuesday that the party would seek to provide "accurate information" about the legislative reforms advocated by the opposition and emphasize their necessity.

The KMT and TPP, who form a majority in the Legislature, maintain that the amendments have followed due process and are a necessary reform, particularly in light of allegations of corruption and wrongdoing relating to several major DPP government policies and investment projects.

According to the Constitution, lawmakers must vote on whether to uphold the amendments' passage no later than June 25. If they fail to reach a decision before the deadline, the revisions will be void.

If more than half of all sitting legislators, or at least 57 lawmakers in the current Legislature, support the measures' passage, the president will be required to sign them into law.

In addition to political parties, civil society groups have also launched a similar campaign featuring talks and workshops in different parts of Taiwan in the lead-up to the upcoming vote.

These activities seek to "engage in dialogue with residents in constituencies that are typically more supportive of KMT and TPP lawmakers," Hsu Kuan-tse (許冠澤), deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Economic Democracy Union, said at a press event in Taipei on Wednesday.

He added that the objective is to leverage public pressure on opposition lawmakers, forcing them to reconsider the bills they approved at the end of May in the forthcoming vote.

"We hope that [opposition] lawmakers become aware of... the public's concerns" over the amendments and "respond positively to their demands," he said, noting that the groups would not rule out the possibility of staging another protest on the day of the vote.

Hsu's group is one of the civil society groups that mobilized a series of protests outside the Legislature last month when lawmakers were deliberating the amendments.

According to a poll conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation released on May 24, nearly 58 percent of people interviewed supported the bill to punish public officials if they refuse to cooperate in hearings while around 29 percent opposed it.

(By Teng Pei-ju, Wang Cheng-chung and Kuo Chien-shen)


CNA photo June 12, 2024
CNA photo June 12, 2024
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