Bill seeks new powers
The president could be required to deliver “state of the union” addresses if the legislature passes amendments to a law governing legislative powers. The legislature’s Judicial and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday approved amendments to the Law Governing the Legislature’s Power (立法院職權行使法) that would empower lawmakers to request such an address by gathering the signatures of one-quarter of the legislature. The president would also be allowed to submit a request to brief legislators about national policies. The amendments will proceed to the plenary legislative session without further cross-party negotiations. Under the draft, the president would be required to send a copy of his address to legislators three days in advance. Lawmakers would be entitled to ask questions after the speech. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) said that he looked forward to seeing president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) deliver such an address upon taking office on May 20 if the legal revisions are passed in time.
Ma, Siew could see pay cut
President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) could see their salaries halved. The legislature’s Judiciary, Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday passed a preliminary review of the draft bill governing the terms of employment for the president and vice president. If the bill is passed, Ma will receive NT$462,780 a month and Siew NT$342,800. The draft will proceed to a full legislative sitting for the second reading without further cross-party negotiations.
Citizen still jailed in Japan
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that officials from Taiwan’s representative office in Japan had visited a Tibetan-Taiwanese activist who was detained for attempting to disrupt the Olympic torch relay, but said it was unclear when he would be released. “On Wednesday afternoon, ministry staff members met Tashi Tsering, who said he had received good care during detention and was grateful for the visit and concern” of the officials, ministry spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) said at a press briefing. Tashi Tsering, also vice chairman of the Taiwan chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress, was detained for attempting to approach the Olympic torch during the flame relay in Nagano in central Japan last Saturday. After his initial 48-hour detention period was over, Tashi Tsering was interrogated by a prosecutor, who decided to extend his detention for another 10 days. Yeh said the prosecutor would decide whether to formally indict Tashi Tsering or file another extension for further investigation.
Tainted coconuts missing
Fewer than 20 percent of the imported coconuts found earlier this week in Taipei County to contain residues of a banned substance had been located as of Wednesday, the county’s department of health said yesterday. The department said that it had tracked down only 193 cartons of the coconuts — some 16.9 percent of the total shipment. The department’s statistics showed that a total of 1,140 boxes of the tainted coconuts were imported from Thailand and distributed. Officials said all the coconuts seized by local governments would be destroyed. The Department of Health detected the fungicide Carbendazim in samples of the coconuts last week. Carbendazim is believed to affect hormone functions.