Members of a legislative committee yesterday failed to reach a consensus on whether to alter a regulation that would allow lawmakers to impeach the president or vice president for reasons other than sedition or treason.
While the Constitution does not set conditions for impeachment, the Law Governing Legislators' Exercise of Power (立法院職權行使法) states that the legislature can only impeach the president and vice president when they commit an act of sedition or treason.
Inter-party negotiations will be called to discuss articles committee members failed to concur on before the legal revisions proceed to the plenary legislative session for further deliberation.
During a hearing held by the legislature's Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday morning, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) proposed to take out the conditions stipulated in Article 42 of the law while People First Party Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) proposed getting rid of the article altogether.
KMT Legislator Kao Su-po (高思博) said that the article runs counter to the Constitution, which does not specify conditions for impeachment.
Kao said that in the US, the president, vice president and all other civil servants can be impeached for treason, bribery or several other high crimes and misdemeanors.
"It is meaningless to set the conditions because prosecutors can launch an investigation if the president or vice president is suspected of committing an act of sedition or treason," he said.
DPP Legislator Chen Chin-de (陳金德), however, said that it was necessary to hold a public hearing and solicit further opinions.
The committee agreed to amend Article 44, which would ask the Council of Grand Justices, rather than the National Assembly, to conduct any impeachment trial.
The amendment was necessary after last year's constitutional amendments abolished the National Assembly.
The committee failed to see eye to eye on the amendment to Article 29 proposed by the KMT caucus.
The caucus proposed to increase the legislature's ratification threshold of the president's nominees from a simple majority to two thirds. It is the president's constitutional right to nominate the heads and members of the Control Yuan, Examination Yuan, Judicial Yuan and Council of Grand Justices.
Chen said that he was against the proposal because it would allow a minority of the legislature dictate the ratification process if they could muster the support of one third.
Because of the high legal threshold, Chen said that he was worried that it would encourage the nominees to court legislators sitting on the review committee as if they were running for an election.
"While the Control Yuan is supposed to be an independent body, you don't want the members acting like politicians," he said.
Chen was also opposed to another proposal from the KMT caucus, which would form an 11-member review committee made up of lawmakers in proportion to the seats each party holds in the legislature. Chen said that the formation of the committee was unnecessary because the legislature's existing committees could handle the job.
With the attempt to improve legislative efficiency, committee members agreed to shorten the period of cross-party negotiations from four months to two.
Currently, bills which fail to win the endorsement of all caucuses during the four-month negotiation period will be dealt with at the plenary legislative session.