Tue, May 08, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Consensus on absentee voting elusive

SMALL VICTORYWhile talks on voters originating from overseas went nowhere, the DPP threatened to walk out of a meeting over an amendment on the KMT's stolen assets

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A legislative committee yesterday failed to reach a consensus on absentee voting for the presidential election but agreed to leave the presidential candidates' birthplace out of the election bulletin.

The Home and Nations Committee approved the amendment to Article 44 of the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝).

The article states that the Central Election Commission must print personal information about the presidential and vice presidential candidates on the election bulletin, including their place of birth. Chu proposed that birthplace be left out.

Democratic Progressive Party DPP Legislator Kuo Jeng-liang (郭正亮) dismissed the legal revision as a "a clumsy denial resulting in self-exposure," adding he had forgotten that former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was born in Hong Kong until he saw Chu's proposal.

DPP legislative whip Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) proposed calling off the meeting when the KMT caucus proposed another set of amendments which would ban a national referendum from being held in tandem with an election.

Wang threatened to stage a boycott if the KMT insisted on putting it to a vote.

DPP Legislator Kao Chien-chih (高建智) engaged in verbal clashes with Chu over the issue. While Kao blamed the KMT for never doing the right thing, Chu criticized the DPP for vote-buying during Sunday's membership vote for its presidential candidate.

Chu said if the DPP was so keen on holding a referendum on the KMT's assets then it should also hold a referendum on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) personal property.

KMT Legislator Her Jyh-huei (何智輝) dismissed the DPP's plan to reclaim the KMT's stolen assets as a "political ploy" aimed at scoring election points.

Also shelved was an amendment to Article 70 proposed by People First Party (PFP) Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池).

Wu proposed that the president and vice president could be subject to a recall if they failed to serve less than one year of their term.

Committee members failed to come to an agreement on absentee voting and resolved to discuss the issue at a future date. They requested that the Central Election Commission map out a concrete plan before the end of August.

KMT Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) argued that the government should allow civil servants stationed overseas to vote in the presidential election. Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎), however, contended that the constitutional amendment request that all eligible voters working outside the country return home to cast their ballot.

The committee also agreed to send the amendments proposed by KMT Legislator Wu Den-yi (吳敦義) and PFP Legislator Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧) to a plenary legislative session for debate.

Cross-party negotiations, however, must be requested to seek a consensus before the amendments proceed to a full-house meeting.

Wu and Shen had said that an administrative vote recount should be held if a candidate wins the presidential election by less than a 1 percent margin.

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