Thu, May 19, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Legislative committee removes ban on forming communist, splittist groups

Staff Writer, with CNA

A legislative committee on Monday approved an amendment that negates a ban on people from advocating communism or the idea of splitting the national territory.

Two provisions in the Civil Associations Act (人民團體法) that made it illegal to promote communism and “divide the nation” were deleted after a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee.

The act’s article on the limitation of organization and activities states that “organization and activities of civil associations may not advocate communism or claim abruption of the country.”

Another article regarding illegal establishment says: “An application for establishment of a civil association that violates the provision of Article 2 [the previous one] or other laws shall be rejected; if the establishment is permitted, such permit shall be abolished.”

The Council of Grand Justices concluded that the two articles were unconstitutional and should be deleted.

Before the amendment, groups that wanted to spread communist ideology or the idea of splitting the country could be denied a permit to operate.

This is “an apparent violation of the rights to the freedom of expression and the freedom of association,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), who is also a convener of the committee, said the committee had followed the council’s ruling and honored prevailing public opinion by approving the removal of the two provisions.

The amendments will help the normal development of the country as the new version of the law will serve the interests of the government, political parties, the private sector, society and the media, he said.

Wu said that further deliberation on the amendment did not need to go through the so-called consultations between the ruling and opposition party caucuses, therefore the amendment was expected to clear the legislative floor in due time.

Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said that since 2008, the ministry had asked all local governments not to cite those two provisions in rejecting applications for forming civic or political groups.

The latest changes to the law will give people more freedom to form groups, Jiang said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), who initiated the discussion, said the government department in charge of civic groups had the authority to screen the contents of their proposals.

Before the amendment, groups that wanted to spread communist ideology or the idea of splitting the country could be denied a permit to operate.

This is “an apparent violation of the rights to the freedom of expression and the freedom of association,” Gao said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), who is also a convener of the committee, said the committed had followed the council’s ruling and honored prevailing public opinion by approving the removal of the two provisions.

The amendments will help the normal development of the country as the new version of the law will serve the interests of the government, political parties, the private sector, society and the media, he said.

Wu said that further deliberation on the amendment did not need to go through the so-called consultations between the ruling and opposition party caucuses, therefore the amendment was expected to clear the legislative floor in due time.

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