Interparty negotiations over constitutional amendments broke down again yesterday, with young protesters, angry over the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) refusal to separately review controversial amendments on the last day of the legislative session, attempting to storm into KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao’s (賴士葆) office.
The Legislative Yuan had its last plenary meeting yesterday, which was already extended for the legislature to pass the amendments in time for a referendum on the reforms to take place alongside the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 16. The failure to pass the amendments means the referendum will not take place as planned.
The party caucuses held negotiations yesterday morning intending to iron out the disagreements on how the constitutional amendments should be handled.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said it proposed that constitutional amendments on which the parties have reached a consensus, such as the lowering of the voting age to 18 and the lowering of the threshold for parties to secure representation in the legislature, be passed in time for the administrative procedures required by the referendum.
It accused the KMT caucus of lacking sincerity with its insistence on bundling amendments for simultaneous legislative passage.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said Lai stressed that it was the KMT leadership pressing for the bundling of the legislature’s power to confirm the premier and absentee voting — the two items that the KMT believes to be the most pressing, but which the DPP opposes — with the lowering of the voting age.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Ker alleged that Lai even proposed a delay to the presidential election — but not the legislative election — which would relieve the pressure for prompt passage of the constitutional amendments, because the referendum, which has to be scheduled on the same day as the elections to guarantee a 50 percent voter turnout for the vote to be valid, could then be postponed to be held with the rescheduled presidential election.
Ker said the KMT, which is likely to nominate Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) as its presidential candidate, expects a significant challenge for KMT legislative candidates (especially in the south), and that postponing the presidential election — which could allow at least another month for interparty negotiations on the constitutional amendments — would likely reduce Hung’s impact on the legislative election for KMT candidates.
Lai denied proposing the postponement, saying it was put forward by People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪), who, according to Lai, asked DPP Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to promise that she would support allowing the legislature to confirm the premiership.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Lai added that legislative regulations state that bills, unless already having a consensus, could not be put to a vote within one month of negotiations.
A group of young people walked into the building housing legislators’ offices early yesterday afternoon and demanded that Lai answer questions on the issue.
After a standoff with police outside Lai’s office, they were thrown out, with protester Wang Yi-kai (王奕凱) arrested on charges of assault on a police officer.
The protesters demanded to see evidence of Wang’s offense, but said it was not provided.
The police escorted Wang to a patrol car and were able to leave only after a confrontation, in which the protesters blocked the car by lying down in front of it.
DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) later said that KMT lawmakers failed to appear at an interparty negotiation session scheduled for the afternoon, adding that Lai told her that negotiations were not possible, because of a party leadership directive.
The last general assembly meeting ended at about 6pm, with lawmakers from both parties holding banners and shouting slogans denouncing each other for obstructing the constitutional reforms.
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a