Fri, Jan 10, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Committee gives its approval to political party bill

`SUNSHINE' DRAFT The Home and Nations Committee passed a bill to regulate the activities of parties, but did so by passing over the draft's more controversial clauses

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A legislative committee yesterday approved the political party bill but set aside sensitive articles that would ban political parties from engaging in widely frowned-upon activities.

The bill, one of the four "sunshine" drafts intended to regulate the nation's political parties, cleared the Home and Nations Committee, after members passed over disputed clauses, among them the proposed ban on profit-making ventures.

In addition, the committee failed to address whether political parties should give up their stakes in media enterprises, though it agreed on the principal of equal treatment for all parties.

The bill says all political parties are entitled to fair use of public properties and mass media. It allows authorities to fine media owners up to NT$1 million for flouting the fairness doctrine.

It will take cross-party negotiations before the bill can be sent to its second and third readings.

Among other articles cleared were regulations on mergers and dissolutions of political parties. The legislation says parties may decide to merge or disband after obtaining approval from their congress.

A merger would not influence the appointed seats each party controls in the legislature, according to the bill.

Parties would be asked to file a financial report by the end of May each year and authorities should disclose related information within a month and a half so the public could be informed of their operations.

The committee also agreed on a provision forbidding political parties from recruiting members under the age of 18. Judicial officials and their counterparts in the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan are banned from taking part in political activities or openly airing their views on specific political parties, the bill says.

To avoid partisan rivalry, the committee did not take up an opposition proposal that would ban the nation's president from concurrently heading a political party.

Likewise, it turned over to cross-party negotiations a controversial article regarding party assets.

The Cabinet draft suggests parties liquidate their real estate with the exception of the office buildings needed to house party staff.

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