Lawmakers yesterday approved amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to lower the legal voting age and slash the thresholds for initiating, seconding and passing referendums.
The Legislative Yuan yesterday reviewed several motions concerning seven disputed draft amendments.
A proposed amendment to Article 2, which states that issues stipulated in the Constitution — such as the nation’s official title and territory — are not to be decided through referendums, was passed with the support of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party caucuses.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
The New Power Party’s (NPP) motion to extend the scope of the act to cover the Constitution’s contents and to allow a new Constitution to be written was struck down.
The amended Article 2 also grants people the right to propose — through a referendum — laws to be considered by city or county councils, and to amend or abolish local government-level autonomous acts.
This is a step up from the former rule, which granted people the right to amend or abolish lower-level autonomous regulations, which do not need approval from city or county councils.
All four caucuses lent their support to a draft amendment of Article 7, which lowers the legal voting age for referendums from 20 to 18, allowing it to advance to the third reading without a vote.
The threshold for initiation of national and regional referendums has been lowered from 0.005 percent of the electorate in the most recent presidential election, or about 90,000, to 0.0001 percent, or about 1,800.
The number of signatures required for a proposed referendum to pass its second stage — 5 percent of all eligible voters in the most recent president election, or about 900,000 — has been reduced to 1.5 percent, or about 280,000.
For a referendum to pass, 25 percent of the eligible voters must vote "yes."
A motion tabled by the KMT on Monday, which set the threshold at 20 percent, was vetoed.
A DPP motion to amend Article 13 to grant the Executive Yuan the right to propose referendums on major policies, proposing or vetoing a law was passed.
The amended act includes a new provision that allows signature drives, which are necessary for a referendum, to be conducted online.
According to the provision, the lead initiator of a referendum should request an authentication code when filing a request for an online signature drive with the Central Election Commission.
A KMT motion to implement absentee voting for referendums failed to obtain a majority vote.
A draft amendment by the NPP that seeks to have the president propose topics of “political negotiations” with Beijing as topics to be voted on in referendums before such negotiations are conducted was vetoed.
The DPP and the KMT said that such a regulatory measure should be stipulated in the proposed act on supervising cross-strait agreements, which the DPP has put on the back-burner to avoid worsening cross-strait ties.
NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) criticized the DPP over the outcome, saying its decision had forced President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to renege on a promise she made in 2011 during her first presidential election campaign to form a law on monitoring cross-strait political negotiations.
In response to the NPP’s proposals that the amendment should allow the public to vote on issues such as territorial changes and cross-strait negotiations, DPP spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said those issues should be handled within the framework of the Constitution or a draft act on the cross-strait oversight mechanism.
While the KMT criticized the amendment for the exclusion of an absentee voting system, the DPP said it supports the idea of absentee voting and would legislate for its establishment with a separate law.
Additional reporting by Chen Wei-han
EIGHT-YEAR WINDOW: Avril Haines said that Beijing is closely watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although Moscow’s actions have not sped up Beijing’s timeline The threat posed by China to Taiwan until 2030 is “critical,” US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Tuesday while testifying on worldwide threats at a hearing of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services. “I think it’s fair to say that it’s critical, or acute,” Haines said when asked by US Senator Josh Hawley if she viewed the threat facing Taiwan to be acute from now until 2030. “It’s our view that they [China] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention,” she said, without
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate