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
CAUTION: Taiwanese should be alert, even if they have just liked or shared posts that would breach Beijing’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, the council said Due to the newly implemented Hong Kong national security legislation, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has drawn up a list of what it described as “high-risk groups,” cautioning them not to travel to Hong Kong. People who support independence for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” concept; and those who donated to or voiced support for the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement are urged to refrain from visiting Hong Kong, the council said on its Web site. It released two posts on
NEW HONG KONG LAW: A visit to Beijing-friendly nations or those with weak judicial systems could leave people at risk of deportation to China, a former MAC official said Beijing could request countries with which it has extradition agreements to deport Taiwanese to China to face criminal charges following the implementation of national security legislation for Hong Kong, a former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official warned yesterday. Some developing countries, and those close to China because of the Belt and Road Initiative, are likely to accommodate Beijing’s requests to extradite Taiwanese to China, said former deputy MAC minister Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺), who served from July 2, 2018, until May 20, and then returned to his former post as an assistant professor of sociology at National Tsing Hua University. While Taiwanese
IN THE PIPELINE: The Ministry of National Defense said the sale, expected to take effect in one month, would be the seventh arms sale under the Trump administration The government yesterday thanked the US for approving the possible sale of a US$620 million missile repair and recertification package to Taiwan. The US Department of State has approved the sale of a package to recertify Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington for an estimated US$620 million, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a news release on Thursday. The agency has delivered the required certification to the US Congress, notifying it of the possible sale, it added. The TECRO had requested to buy an upgrade package that would support an operational
INJURED: Several KMT lawmakers fought their way through DPP members into the legislative chamber, while others lay on a driveway to block Chen Chu Scuffles broke out at the Legislative Yuan yesterday as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers again occupied the legislative chamber, stymieing a report by Control Yuan presidential nominee Chen Chu (陳菊) and a question-and-answer session. The KMT lawmakers showed up at the back door of the chamber at about 5am and tried to enter, but were stopped by several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers who were guarding the door. Scuffles broke out as the KMT lawmakers tried to force their way through the door, injuring legislators on both sides. KMT Legislator Hung Mong-kai (洪孟楷) tackled DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), while DPP Legislator Wu