Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DPP to propose change on interest conflicts

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus plans to propose a legislative amendment that will demand legislators avoid conflicts of interests when signing up for legislative committees or proposing bills.

Convener of the party's legislative reform department Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times yesterday that the DPP's proposed amendment of the Legislators' Conduct Act (立法委員行為法) will highlight the principle of "avoidance of conflicts of interest."

He said if the proposal is passed, legislators would not be able to hold other jobs in profitable organizations other than their legislative positions in case they abuse their authority or influence to benefit themselves.

He added that they would also have to declare their "jobs" at non-profit organizations if they hold any.

The proposal also prevents them from participating in legislative committees that concern their or their family's interests, he said, adding that violations of the principle would cost legislators a one-year suspension of their legislative jobs or fines of up to NT$100,000 (US$3,030).

Chuang said the proposal was drawn up to go with the "sunshine bills" the party has been promoting in the Legislature, including amendments to the Political Donations Law (政治獻金法), the Act on Property Declaration by Public Servants (公職人員財產申報法) and the Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選舉罷免法).

The caucus has not discussed the proposal with any other party caucuses yet, he said.

How to ensure that the proposal would not prevent legislators from exercising their specialty in legislative committees would be the subject of further discussions between caucuses, Chuang said.

The DPP caucus were in general agreement on the proposal at the meeting on Friday, but DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) believed regulations related to legislators' salary and pension should also be amended to complement the proposal, Chuang said.

"Some people may criticize [the proposal] as `articles for the saints,' but this is what the public wants and we believe this is a must-do," he said.

The DPP caucus will present further proposals concerning the improvement of the legislative system in the future, such as the management of legislative assistants, he added.

According to the current Legislators' Conduct Act, lawmakers are also asked to avoid conflicts of interests, but the legislative positions of violators will only be suspended for half a year at most. Furthermore, there is nothing to stop legislators holding other jobs.

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