Thu, Mar 07, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Committee rejects National Assembly reform bill

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Organic Laws and Statutes Com-mittee yesterday dismissed a Cabinet bill to overhaul the makeup of the National Assembly on the grounds that it was not responsible for legislation left over from the last legislative session.

Committee members across party lines frowned on the bill, which they said is aimed at strengthening a body that should act as a non-regular task force in line with a constitutional amendment.

"The committee will not review the bill, as it was submitted before the [present] legislature took office," said DPP lawmaker Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), who presided over the committee meeting.

To respect the discretion of new legislators, the Legislative Yuan adopted an internal reform proposal last year that removed bills that had failed to become laws from the legislative calendar.

Parties intent on reactivating a bill have to reintroduce it to the lawmaking body.

To prevent a repeat of pending bills becoming outdated, the committee attached a resolution requiring the Central Election Commission to shorten the time lag between legislative elections and inaugurations of lawmakers.

The proposed change, Lin said, is intended to deny outgoing legislators the opportunity to ram through legislation before their term expires.

The Cabinet bill to remake the National Assembly was introduced in early January, one month before the current session began.

Chen Ching-te (陳金德), another DPP legislator, slammed the Cabinet version of the bill as unconstitutional, because it proposed giving the National Assembly the right to call public hearings, investigate evidence and question witnesses.

Chen noted that constitutional amendments passed in 2000 made clear the intention to reduce the National Assembly to an ad hoc body that would only convene to confirm constitutional-reform bills proposed by the legislature.

Voicing a similar complaint, KMT lawmaker Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said that the Cabinet should ensure that the Assembly remains a figurehead group when seeking to redefine its powers and functions.

As former members of the National Assembly, Chen and Tsai were both deeply involved in the inter-party talks that led to the 2000 constitutional reform.

Noting that the law must be revised by May 18, PFP lawmaker Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠) urged the Cabinet to submit a new version of the bill without delay.

"The Cabinet must hurry up or the legislature may not have enough time to review the legislation," Chin said.

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