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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Power grab disguised as ‘reform’

Power grab disguised as ‘reform’

The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday last week passed a set of controversial bills proposed by opposition lawmakers expanding the legislature’s power of investigation and introducing penalties for “contempt of the legislature.”

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) have pushed for the passage of the amendments to the Act Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Powers (立法院職權行使法) and the Criminal Code, in the name of “legislative reform” to make the government more transparent and accountable. The bills grant the legislature investigative powers, allowing it to hold hearings and demand that government agencies, the military, judicial officials, organizations and individuals provide information or documents or face fines. They would also criminalize “contempt of the legislature” by civil servants who make false statements during a hearing or questioning in the Legislative Yuan.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the bills are “unconstitutional” and an abusive overreach of legislative power, which might increase the risk of sensitive information leaks, infringe on the courts’ jurisdiction and harm individuals’ privacy rights.

During the legislative process, the KMT and TPP refused to discuss the DPP’s proposed bills and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to block the DPP from raising motions or boycotting by a show of hands for the second and third readings.

Tens of thousands of people surrounded the Legislative Yuan in the past two weeks to protest the rushed passing of the bills, which include vague terminology, while the process lacked definition, transparency, cross-party negotiations and measures to protect the rights of those affected.

Many protesters also expressed concern that expanded legislative power would erode the Constitution, and benefit Beijing by hindering the government’s execution of policies and undermining President William Lai’s (賴清德) presidency.

The bills would not immediately become law, as the Executive Yuan can return them to the Legislative Yuan for reassessment, but if more than half of the original lawmakers uphold the original bill, the Cabinet would have to pass it to Lai to be signed. The president does not have veto powers, so he can only ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the bills after they have been signed into law.

The KMT called the bills a “great victory,” and KMT caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) instantly showed his true colors by making several extravagant claims in the past week, with little regard for — and even showing contempt for — the Constitution, the judicial system, KMT’s party charter and their “ally” the TPP.

Fu and TPP caucus whip Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) pledged that they would “surely abolish the Control Yuan,” but the separation of the five government branches is an integral part of the Constitution.

The preface of the KMT Charter states that the party follows the principles of the separation of the five government branches. KMT leaders have also constantly said that they are determined to protect the Constitution, so Fu’s call to abolish the Control Yuan and the unbalanced expansion of legislative power from the passed bills highlight the discordance in the KMT and its unconstitutional power grab under the pretense of “reform.”

He further pledged to establish an “opposition parties’ special investigation division,” which has been rejected by TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

Ko said the TPP advocates for the division of three powers: the Legislative Yuan, Executive Yuan and Judicial Yuan.

The public should continue to keep their eyes on the Legislative Yuan, especially on Fu and the KMT caucus, as their “victory” has seemingly encouraged and intensified their undisguised grab for power and could further harm the nation’s democracy.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2024/06/03

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