Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blues propose new form of recount

LATEST SUGGESTION The idea is to have the ballots counted publicly -- with judges, prosecutors, lawyers, officials of both camps, CEC officials and others watching

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The pan-blue camp yesterday decided not to immediately appeal the Taiwan High Court's decision to reject its lawsuits to overturn the result of the presidential election -- and urged the pan-green camp to agree to a "judicial and administrative recount."

"By law, we are allowed to either re-file the suits after the Central Election Committee [CEC] announces the winner on Friday or appeal to the Supreme Court immediately. We decided to wait," said People First Party (PFP) Taipei City Councilwoman Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊), who is one of the lawyers working on behalf of the pan-blue camp.

According to Huang, the pan-blue camp's new proposal for a "judicial and administrative recount" seeks to have the recount conducted publicly in the presence of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, officials of both camps, CEC officials and neutral third-party representatives.

"This is the fastest way that we can finish this," Huang said. "We are hoping that our opponents will agree to our proposal."

Speaking on behalf of the pan-green camp, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus leader Tsai Huang-lang (蔡煌瑯) said the DPP would accept all kinds of suggestions on how to complete the recount as soon as possible.

However, Tsai said, the recount had to proceed through legal means.

"As far as I am concerned, the administrative recount would be the fastest way to finish this, and we will try our best to amend the law and make it happen as soon as possible," Tsai said. "However, we also hope that the pan-blue camp will consider canceling their rally on Saturday."

The pan-blue camp's latest proposal may not be a practical one because it is not supported by any law. At present, there are two ways to carry out a recount -- a "judicial recount" and "administrative recount."

For a "judicial recount," the plaintiff has to file a suit with the Taiwan High Court and provide sufficient evidence to prove that there were errors during the election. The Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) regulates that a trial and recount -- if ordered -- must be completed within six months. This alternative would probably cost more than NT$20 million.

An "administrative recount" would be based upon a decision from the CEC. If more than half of the commission members at a meeting agree to a recount, then it can be carried out. An "administrative recount" would probably cost between NT$300 million and NT$500 million.

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) has already called this type of recount illegal because it is not regulated by law, either.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to amend the Presidential Election and Recall Law by adding a clause such that "when the difference of the total amount of votes for both candidates is within 1 percent, an administrative recount shall be carried out by the CEC within seven days after the election day."

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that the legislature is trying to amend and pass the law within 15 days. He has urged President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to declare an "emergency decree" so the CEC can carry out an "administrative recount" immediately.

Under Article 43 of the Constitution, a presidential "emergency decree" is above all kinds of laws. Usually, its use has been limited to times of natural disasters, diseases or crises. In the history of the Republic of China, there have been five presidential emergency decrees.

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