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Cabinet, opposition lawmakers remain at odds over oversight bills

06/20/2024 09:11 PM
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Premier Cho Jung-tai (front, right) and Cabinet members attend a plenary session of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Thursday. CNA photo June 20, 2024
Premier Cho Jung-tai (front, right) and Cabinet members attend a plenary session of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Thursday. CNA photo June 20, 2024

Taipei, June 20 (CNA) The Cabinet and opposition party lawmakers on Thursday continued to argue over recently passed amendments that enhance oversight of the executive branch, just one day before the Legislature votes on the revisions again after they were sent back by the Cabinet for reconsideration.

Premier Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) told lawmakers on the legislative floor that the Cabinet has concerns over the "rarely seen" and even "unprecedented" powers created for the Legislature through the amendments after "carefully examining the provisions."

These measures, Cho argued, would allow the Legislature to "act as if it were a court or prosecutors," thus violating the principle of the separation of powers stipulated in the Constitution.

The powers he mentioned refer to the different powers endowed in the five branches of government -- the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, the Examination Yuan, and the Control Yuan -- under the Constitution of the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name.

If legislators vote to uphold the passage of the law revisions on Friday, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led Cabinet will consider further options, Cho said, likely referring to obtaining a ruling from the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the measures.

Crowds gather on a road near the Legislative Yuan in Taipei for the second day on Thursday. CNA photo June 20, 2024
Crowds gather on a road near the Legislative Yuan in Taipei for the second day on Thursday. CNA photo June 20, 2024

However, Chen Gau-tzu (陳昭姿), a legislator from the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), called on the Executive Yuan to "cease sowing division" with its attempts to invalidate the amendments and instead "recognize the purpose of the revisions" as a legislative reform.

The TPP lawmaker was alluding to the passed measures that give the Legislature new investigative powers and the power to hold hearings, which include potential penalties and jail time for public officials if they refuse to attend or provide information, or present false information.

In the case of individuals or groups from the private sector, they would only face penalties if they do not cooperate.

Chen cited examples of several DPP lawmakers, who while in opposition, accused government officials of showing "contempt" for the Legislature by arguing with lawmakers or refusing to attend meetings.

She added that the DPP and its lawmakers have changed their tune now they are in power.

In response, Cho said any acts of contempt towards the Legislature were unacceptable and needed to be addressed, but he maintained that the measures passed on May 28 "exceeded" the Legislature's authority and that lawmakers should devise "better provisions."

KMT lawmakers guard the entrance to the Legislative Yuan chamber on Thursday to secure access to the podium for Friday's vote. CNA photo June 20, 2024
KMT lawmakers guard the entrance to the Legislative Yuan chamber on Thursday to secure access to the podium for Friday's vote. CNA photo June 20, 2024

Meanwhile, the Kuomintang's (KMT) Wang Yu-min (王育敏) accused the government of "conflicting" statements, given that Cho had previously voiced support for legislative reforms but the Cabinet is now seeking to have the amendments rejected entirely.

The Cabinet last week requested that the Legislature reconsider the revisions to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power and the Criminal Code, pushed through by the KMT and TPP lawmakers, who have a majority in the Legislature, claiming they are "unconstitutional" and "difficult to execute."

Wang also criticized the Cabinet's opposition to hearings at the Legislature, which she noted are common in "advanced democratic countries" such as the United States, France and Germany.

She also refuted Cho's comments suggesting that the amendments lacked restrictions, arguing that according to the passed measures, hearings could only be held on "important matters concerning the public."

The amendments merely sought to address the long-standing problem of insufficient oversight of the executive branch of the government by the Legislature, Wang argued.

She added that those who have served as lawmakers, including Cho himself, are aware that the Executive Yuan's power "dominates" other branches, leaving them unable to effectively monitor the government.

(By Chen Chun-hua, Kuo Chien-shen and Teng Pei-ju)

Enditem/AW

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June 11: President approves request for Legislature to reconsider bills

May 28

● 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 June 20, 2024
CNA photo June 20, 2024
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