Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Draft lobbying bill gets initial approval

COMMITTEE REVIEW Lawmakers wrapped up their efforts to reconcile seven versions of the law, which would ban foreigners from lobbying on several subjects

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A legislative committee yesterday approved the preliminary review of a draft lobbying bill, which would ban Chinese nationals from political lobbying or engaging Taiwanese firms to do so.

The controversial aspects of the bill, including its penalty articles, were set aside for further negotiation.

The Organic Laws and Statutes Committee wrapped up the review of seven versions of the draft lobbying bill proposed by different legislative caucuses or legislators.

Committee members agreed that Chinese nationals or organizations should be banned from political lobbying or engaging Taiwanese firms to do so. Residents or organizations from Hong Kong and Macau would also be prohibited from such activities.

Committee members agreed, however, that other foreign governments, persons or organizations must engage Taiwanese companies or individuals to conduct political lobbying.

The committee, however, agreed to allow diplomats stationed here or personnel dispatched by a foreign governments or international organizations to lobby, provided that doing so was in keeping with their job descriptions.

Foreign governments, legal persons, groups and individuals would be banned from lobbying on issues related to national defense, diplomacy and cross-strait affairs, or involving national security or classified material.

Lobbyists would be required to register with the government agency they wish to lobby. The agency must either refuse lobbyists failing to register or request that they register within a certain period of time.

While the bill would impose a fine on lobbyists who refuse to register, it would not punish the agency they had targeted.

Vice Minister of Justice Chu Nan (朱楠) said top-level government officials being lobbied were expected to act with propriety, and it would be inappropriate to punish them, as they are subject to political or criminal punishment.

People First Party Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) disagreed. He proposed regulating the actions of the president's wife, saying that the first lady might not be a civil servant, but she enjoys a great deal of power.

Officials regulated by the bill would include the president, vice president, the mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung and their deputies, county commissioners and their deputies and local government chiefs and their deputies.

Lobbyists would be required to submit a financial report of their lobbying efforts to the government agency they wish to lobby before May 31 each year, and keep the record for five years. The government agency accepting the lobbying must publish such records online or in paper format.

The draft bill would impose a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 on lobbyists failing to keep financial record. Committee members, however, could not reach a consensus on the article as well as all other punitive clauses.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top