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《TAIPEI TIMES》 KMT, TPP pass controversial measures

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, front rows, protest at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, front rows, protest at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters

2024/05/29 03:00

‘BLUE BIRD ACTION’: Demonstrators demanded that the bills be sent back for another legislative review, while the DPP vowed to seek a constitutional review

/ Staff writer, with agencies

The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed bills proposed by opposition lawmakers that would increase legislators’ oversight of the government as thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the venue to protest the changes.

The legislature passed the amendments to the Act Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法) after a day of raucous debates and scuffles between the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which saw one lawmaker’s T-shirt ripped.

Progress on passing revisions to the act had been slow earlier in the day, as the DPP made legislators go through all 77 articles of the act — even those not being changed — as a stalling tactic.

The floor of the legislature was as colorful and boisterous as the streets outside, with representatives from both sides festooning the Legislative Yuan with placards.

DPP lawmakers had waved bubble tea-shaped torches, shouting: “Brush your teeth, your breath stinks” at their KMT colleagues, a reference to what they said are opposition lies about the bill.

“End the meeting if there is no discussion,” they said.

Opposition lawmakers, holding sun-shaped balloons, shouted: “Let sunlight into the legislature.”

As the disagreement turned physical, KMT lawmakers yelled: “The DPP is a violent party.”

In the end, the amendments were passed on their final reading through a show of hands, with opposition lawmakers voting in favor of the changes.

The KMT holds 52 seats in the 113-seat legislature, while the TPP has eight and the DPP has 51. Two independent legislators are ideologically aligned with the KMT.

The reforms give legislators the power to ask the military, private companies or individuals to disclose information deemed relevant by lawmakers, and compel the president to give a “state of the nation” address at the start of the annual legislative session, at which they must answer lawmakers’ questions, which would be a first in Taiwan.

They also criminalize contempt of the legislature by government officials, and made changes to the Criminal Code that would impose a fine of up to NT$200,000 and jail time of up to one year for public officials who lie during a legislative hearing.

There are concerns those powers could lead to leaks of sensitive information and punishments for those who refuse to answer questions.

The Control Yuan, the supervisory branch of the government, already has the power to investigate and impeach officials. It said in a statement yesterday that it could not accept the law passed by the legislature as it violates the division of power.

The KMT has denounced the DPP for trying to “paint them red,” the color of the Chinese Communist Party, and said that the ruling party is trying to stymie efforts to investigate corruption cases and sow unfounded fears about the reforms.

The crowds outside the legislature yesterday followed demonstrations last week that were among the largest since the 2014 Sunflower movement, when protesters stormed and occupied the legislature to block the passage of an unpopular trade pact with China.

With the help of social media, protests yesterday were quickly arranged in at least 10 cities.

Protesters have dubbed their movement the “Blue Bird Action” — named after the road next to the Legislative Yuan in Taipei where they gathered.

“Even if democracy is dead, we will not stop fighting,” shouted protesters dressed in raincoats and holding umbrellas in the rain.

They also shouted: “Refuse Chinese political interference,” among other slogans.

“Your efforts will not go to waste,” Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), convener of the Economic Democracy Union — an organizer of the demonstrations — told protesters after the measures were passed.

The Cabinet should send the bills back for another legislative review, he added.

The DPP has pledged to seek a constitutional review.

“There will be two violations of the Constitution,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said on Monday, adding that they were procedural and substantive contraventions.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

Protesters react to the passing of controversial bills outside of the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei yesterday. 
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE

Protesters react to the passing of controversial bills outside of the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei yesterday.  Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE

People gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei last night.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

People gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei last night. Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

People gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei last night.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

People gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei last night. Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

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