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Legislature votes down Cabinet's reconsideration request (update)

06/21/2024 04:28 PM
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DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (front left) shows his vote Friday. CNA photo June 21, 2024
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (front left) shows his vote Friday. CNA photo June 21, 2024

Taipei, June 21 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan has rejected the Cabinet's request to reconsider amendments recently passed to strengthen the Legislature's investigative powers, setting the stage for a potential constitutional challenge to the measures.

The vote on Friday came after the Committee of the Whole Legislative Yuan convened on Wednesday and Thursday to examine the request made by the Cabinet, with the approval of President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), last week for the Legislature to reconsider the amendments.

With 62 votes in the 113-seat Legislature, lawmakers rejected Cabinet requests to reconsider amendments to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power and amendments to the Criminal Code.

The 62 votes included the Kuomintang's (KMT) 52 lawmakers, two independents ideologically aligned with the party, and eight lawmakers with the Taiwan People's Party (TPP).

The Cabinet effectively vetoed the amendments after arguing they were "difficult to implement" because they violated various Constitutional Interpretations concerning the Legislature's scope of power.

Under Taiwan's legal system, a request for reconsideration can be overturned by a simple legislative majority.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the DPP caucus will seek a ruling from the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the amendments after the passed bills are announced by the president.

He also said that because a constitutional ruling could take some time, the caucus will also file a motion for "a preliminary injunction ruling" by the Constitutional Court to keep the amended laws from being implemented before a final ruling is made.

KMT caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (front, third from right) and several KMT legislators show their votes Friday. CNA photo June 21, 2024
KMT caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (front, third from right) and several KMT legislators show their votes Friday. CNA photo June 21, 2024

Executive Yuan spokesperson Chen Shi-kai (陳世凱) said the Executive Yuan will also seek a ruling from the Constitutional Court after the laws take effect once they are announced by the president.

Chen said the Cabinet will make the petition on its own, rather than jointly with the DPP caucus, following discussions with scholars and ministers without portfolios.

Presidential Office spokeswoman Kuo Ya-hui (郭雅慧) said President Lai will also consider whether or not to file a similar petition for a constitutional judgement after receiving the passed amendments.

The president is the "guardian of the nation's democratic and constitutional governance" and has the duty to safeguard the constitutional system and act to protect the people's rights, she said.

The Constitutional Court Procedure Act states that petitions concerning the constitutionality of laws can be lodged by both state organs and legislators, with the latter having to have a quarter or more of the incumbent lawmakers' approval.

The KMT and TPP have argued that the measures are necessary for the Legislature to effectively engage in government oversight because existing legislative powers lacked teeth and allowed the government to avoid providing critical information requested by lawmakers.

KMT lawmakers addressed a gathering of its supporters outside the Legislative Yuan after the vote, saying the amendments will "allow sunlight into the Legislature" and expose the ruling party's corruption.

TPP caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said the rejection of the Cabinet's reconsideration request is "a crucial moment in Taiwan's democratic history" as it signifies the legislative reforms that failed to pass in the last 30 years were finally achieved.

TPP caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang casts his vote Friday. CNA photo June 21, 2024
TPP caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang casts his vote Friday. CNA photo June 21, 2024

He called on Premier Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) to accept the Legislature's decision in accordance with the Constitution.

In response to the DPP caucus' plan to seek a ruling from the Constitution Court, Huang said the TPP caucus respected its right to do so.

What mattered for the people, however, was for the Legislature to use its strengthened powers to investigate and hold hearings to "reveal the truth in the corruption cases that the DPP government failed to explain," Huang argued.

(By Lin Ching-yin, Lai Yu-chen, Fan Cheng-hsiang, Kuo Chien-sheng, and Alison Hsiao) enditem/ls

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