Wed, Jan 05, 2005 - Page 3 News List

A little progress and a lot of rejection marks session

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Government staffers stand outside the legislature as they await the results of the debate on the 2005 central government budget yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIEN RONG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

The statute governing the arms deal with the US and its related budget plan failed to pass the Procedure Committee again yesterday, while the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposed resolution asserting the sovereignty of the Republic of China (ROC) was also rejected in the committee session.

Meanwhile, the request for the legislature to review Control Yuan member nominations was also rejected by the pan-blue camp again.

The DPP has attempted to get the statute, the budget plan and the request passed several times, while the sovereignty bill was brought up for discussion in the committee for the first time yesterday.

The DPP first proposed the resolution in an attempt to counter China's anti-secession bill.

The resolution states that the "ROC" is a sovereign and independent country neither governed by nor belonging to China. It also says that the cross-strait "status quo" cannot be changed unless the Taiwanese public consents to the change via referendum.

But the People First Party insisted that the DPP add a part about opposition to Taiwan's independence, or it would not approve of the resolution, and the pan-blue camp again rejected the resolution.

"The sovereignty of the ROC is already something that is acknowledged by the Taiwanese public, and proposing this resolution is like taking one's pants down before farting," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said. The Chinese proverb "to take one's pants down before farting" means to engage in an unnecessary act.

Huang said that the most important thing that could be done to defend the ROC's sovereignty was for the pan-green camp to not pursue any activities related to independence.

To defend the resolution, DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said that what was written was the public consensus.

"Since the resolution needs to be approved by the legislature, we can always amend the resolution content," Lee said.

In related news, a partial amendment to the Criminal Code got its second reading in the sitting yesterday, and the amendment stipulates that the death sentence will be abolished gradually.

The amendment further stipulates that a prisoner sentenced to life can request parole only after having served 25 years, up from the current 15 years.

The maximum allowable sentence -- aside from a life sentence or a death sentence -- for a single offense remains 20 years, but a criminal accused of committing several offenses at the same time can receive a 30-year sentence, up from the current 20 years.

The most important change is the tightening of the parole threshold, and the imposing of severer sentences on prisoners committing several offenses at the same time. This is part of the government's policy of gradually abolishing the death sentence.

The amendment is slated to get a third reading -- to be officially approved by the legislature -- in the next sitting on Friday.

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