Fri, May 09, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Errant legislators set to face new, tougher penalties

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators will be subject to punishments ranging from having to apologize to the suspension of their legislative rights for improper conduct if amendments to a law governing lawmakers’ conduct are passed.

The legislature’s Judiciary, Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday approved the preliminary review of legal revisions to the Legislators’ Conduct Act (立法委員行為法), which would more clearly classify the levels of punishment meted out to lawmakers found to have behaved improperly.

The draft would make offending legislators subject to, depending on the severity of the misdemeanor, having to make a public apology, both verbal and written, or a ban on attending the legislature for four to eight sessions.

The draft would require the offender to make the apology at a plenary legislative session.

With the consent of a simple majority of legislators attending a full-house legislative sitting, offenders would be subject to the suspension of their legislative rights for one to three months. Offenders would have their legislative rights suspended for three to six months if two thirds of legislators present agreed on such punishment. It would require the approval of three quarters of the legislators present to suspend legislative rights for six to 12 months.

While the legislature’s Discipline Committee is currrently required to close a case within three months after receiving the complaint, the draft would extend it to six months or the case would automatically become invalid.

The draft proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators was 12 months.

The KMT proposal also suggested that legislators with their legislative rights suspended would not receive any pay except for that of their assistants, but committee members decided to keep the current article intact.

In other words, offenders will not receive any salary during the suspension period, but are still entitled to benefits.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠), a committee member, said she did not oppose the draft amendments but they would be questionable if the purpose of the changes was to target the DPP.

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