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Home The News News Raise penalties for leaks, legislators say

Raise penalties for leaks, legislators say

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the National Security Act (國家安全法) that would ensure elected representatives have half the normal sentence added to their term if convicted of leaking state secrets.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) is under investigation for allegedly leaking confidential material about Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine Program to South Korea.

Local media reported that during closed-door meetings of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee at which details of the submarine program were reviewed, Ma brought in a personal device to call her aides, and refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Police guard an entrance to the Legislative Yuan in Taipei in an undated photograph.

Photo: Lin Liang-sheng, Taipei Times

DPP lawmakers on Thursday last week filed a motion to change the committee’s rules, which was passed.

The amended rules stipulate that no electronic or recording devices, including smart watches and bracelets, legislature-issued communication devices, and cameras, are allowed on lawmakers, officials and staffers attending the committee’s closed-door meetings.

In addition, they cannot keep handwritten notes, must sign a confidentiality agreement and can be searched, the rules state.

However, DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) said the new rules do not prevent legislators who hear confidential government or military information from passing it on.

“It is almost impossible to guard against representatives elected by our democratic system who are working for an enemy state,” she said.

Lawmakers have many opportunities to access military files and national secrets, and have the authority to ask government agencies to provide them with confidential material for review, she said.

“Yet when they ... leak national secrets, they receive the same punishment as any member of the public,” Lin said.

Lin and other DPP legislators proposed a supplement to Article 7 of the act and have received the signatures needed to ensure it is discussed by the legislature.

The proposed amendment refers to the definition of public officials in Article 2 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), saying that they should face a punishment proportional to their responsibilities “to ensure our national security is safeguarded.”

The proposed amendment says that those serving in office, or who are retired — whether they are in government or the armed forces — must have half the normal sentence added to their term if convicted under Article 2 of the National Security Act.

Separately, DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) had proposed an amendment to the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Yuan (立法院議事規則), which passed a first reading on Oct. 6.

The proposed amendment requires all legislators, invited government officials and legislature staffers to sign a confidentiality agreement when attending closed-door meetings, or be refused access.

Source: Taipei Times - 2023/10/16

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