Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

KMT urges Hsieh to back revision of assembly law

FREE RALLY The DPP denied KMT charges it had blocked revision of the law, saying that given the KMT's majority, it should not have difficulty passing a law that it supports

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday called on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to throw his weight behind proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法), which they said enabled the authorities to suppress dissent.

Their appeal came in the wake of the indictment of former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and 15 others for violating the law by holding unregistered protests during last year's Double Ten National Day celebrations.

Asked by reporters for comment on the indictments on Saturday, Hsieh said that any law should be observed even though they are considered "wicked laws."

Hsieh said that the majority party in the legislature should push for a revision of the law instead of simply launching a civil disobedience movement.

Responding to Hsieh's comments, KMT Legislator Justin Chou (周守訓) told a press conference yesterday that the KMT had introduced amendments to the law in the legislature, but the DPP had blocked the amendments every time they were put on the legislative agenda.

KMT Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) demanded Hsieh make his stance on the amendments clear by Dec. 10 -- International Human Rights Day.

The KMT's proposal calls for abolition of the requirement for protesters to apply for a rally permit and removes the police's power to regulate and disperse protesters.

Lei said that the Assembly and Parade Law infringed on the public's freedom of assembly and association as enshrined in the Constitution.

"As a human-rights lawyer -- as he [Hsieh] often describes himself -- he might have forgotten that the legally, a `wicked' law is not a law," Lei said.

In the DPP's defense, DPP caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) urged the KMT caucus not to shift the responsibility of amending the law to the DPP.

Wang told reporters that it would be difficult for the DPP to boycott bills that the KMT seriously wanted to push as the KMT dominates the legislature.

Additional reporting by Flora Wang

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