Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Legislators allow convicted felons to run in polls

APPEALING A lawmaker proposed retracting an amendment that would have barred him and others from seeking re-election this January

By Flora Wang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A Taiwan Solidarity Union legislator, right, holds up a sign in the legislature yesterday, stating his support for an amendment to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act that would allow parties to jointly promote candidates in elections. A pan-blue lawmaker holds up a sign against the proposal.

PHOTO: CNA

A proposed amendment to the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) that would have barred people convicted of serious crimes from participating in an election was deleted by the legislature yesterday.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said at the plenary session that the legislature agreed to a proposal submitted by Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Yen Chin-piao (顏清標) to reconsider the clause after cross-party negotiations.

The amendment had passed a second reading in the legislature on Oct. 26.

The amendment would have banned anyone from running in an election if he or she had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, life in prison or to death but whose case was still on appeal.

Yen, who is appealing a 20-year prison sentence for corruption and other charges, suggested last Wednesday that the amendment be reconsidered.

If the amendment had passed its third reading yesterday, it would bar several lawmakers, including Yen and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Her Jyh-huei (何智輝) -- who is appealing a 19-year term for corruption -- from seeking reelection in January's legislative elections.

Another proposal initiated by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) to allow different political parties to jointly nominate candidate failed to pass the legislature yesterday. Only 90 of the 196 legislators attending the plenary session were in favor of the proposal.

If the proposal had passed, candidates would have been able to run under the flags of two or more political parties.

The pan-blue camp had decided to boycott the TSU's proposal during cross-party negotiations earlier yesterday.

Asked for comment, People First Party Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁), who took part in the negotiations, said his party was against the proposal because it did not want to be involved in the pan-green camp's wrangling over nominations for the January elections.

Amendments to the law that passed a third reading yesterday included a clause stating that Central Election Committee members would immediately suspend the election and reschedule it if a legislative, mayoral or county commissioner candidate died between the period of registration for the election and voting day.

Amendments to the law's Article 24, which stipulates that only political parties that have won more than 2 percent of the valid votes in the last presidential race or more than 2 percent of the votes in the last three legislator-at-large elections can nominate candidates for legislators-at-large, also passed third reading.

Parties that hold more than five legislative seats or plan to nominate more than 10 district and Aboriginal legislators are also entitled to nominate legislators-at-large.

The amendment would make it more difficult for small or newly established parties to nominate legislators-at-large for the January polls.

A coalition of civic groups demonstrated outside the legislature yesterday, chanting "the public mobilize, oppose black-gold" and urging people to call on the legislative caucuses to voice their opposition to amendments that would make it more difficult for smaller parties to contest elections.

Calvin Wen (溫炳原), a member of Green Party Taiwan's central executive committee, singled out Fu, saying he is a corrupt politician who was involved in bribery, black-gold politics, financial irregularities and stock speculation.

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