Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet approves draft lobbying law

`SUNSHINE LAW' The new measure, which will limit who can lobby government officials on certain issues, is designed to make the process more transparent

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreigners and Chinese nationals or organizations will be banned from conducting lobbying activities concerning national defense, diplomacy and Chinese affairs if a draft bill approved by the Executive Yuan yesterday becomes law.

The draft lobby law (遊說法) will now proceed to the legislature for further review and final approval.

Addressing a press conference held after the weekly closed-door Cabinet meeting yesterday morning, Cabinet spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying that the purpose of enacting the lobby law was twofold.

"It's designed to not only regulate illicit lobbying efforts and inappropriate channels of communication but also introduce the voice of private professionalism to the government's decision-making system to help the formation of sounder policy," Yu said.

Yu said that while it was a democratic norm to conduct legal lobbying activities, the activity itself has rendered a misleading impression as involving under-the-table deals or inappropriate channels of communication.

"Therefore, it's necessary and important to format an open and transparent procedure, complimented with other sunshine measures, to help establish a sounder democracy and eradicate `black-gold' politics," he said.

Dubbed as one of the 10 "sunshine laws," the lobby law is marked as one of the priority bills the Cabinet hopes to clear the legislature during the next legislative session.

Five out of the 10 "sunshine laws" have passed the legislature. They are: the Administrative Procedure Law (行政程序法), the Public Officials Conflict of Interests Prevention Law (公職人員利益衝突迴避法), the Public Functionary Assets Disclosure Law (公職人員財產申報法), the National Archives Law (國家檔案法) and Law of National Secret Protection (國家機密保護法).

Those still bogged down in the legislative procedure are the political party law (政黨法), the statute regarding the disposition of assets improperly obtained by political parties (政黨不當取得財產處理條例), the law of opening government information (政府資訊公開法) and political donations law (政治獻金法).

Under the draft of the lobby law, foreign governments, individuals and groups would be banned from engaging in lobbying activities concerning national defense, diplomacy and China-related matters.

Foreign governments, groups or individuals wishing to conduct such lobbying activities would have to entrust local lobbyists or lobbying groups to do so.

Individuals or groups from China, Hong Kong and Macau would not be allowed to engage in lobbying activities.

"Lobby" is defined as an activity meant to sway the formation, approval, change or abrogation of government policies, resolutions or legislations. The activity could be carried out in the form of speaking, writing or e-mail.

Government officials allowed to accept lobbying would include the president, vice president, lawmakers, city councilors, county commissioners, city mayors, township administrators, borough wardens, village chiefs, administrative officers, and civil servants of grade 12 or above.

Would-be lobbyists must obtain the approval of the Ministry of the Interior. Authorized lobbyists will have to make public their budget earmarked for lobbying efforts. Those filing false budget information will be subject to a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million.

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