Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday overturned a decision by the Internal Administration Committee last week to accept proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), drawing fire from opposition parties.
Although the legislative committee had passed on first reading the amendments proposed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) and endorsed by other 30 lawmakers on Thursday, KMT members on the committee, saying that the vote last week was invalid, outvoted their opposition lawmakers and rejected the decision.
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) presided over the meeting on Thursday, which was scheduled to review the proposed amendments until 5:30pm. However, the meeting dragged on because the lawmakers could not reach a consensus. At about 8:45pm, Chen called for a vote to decide whether the proposal should pass the first reading.
Since there were only two KMT lawmakers — who opposed the proposals — remaining, while the DPP had three lawmakers present, the proposal was passed.
The KMT legislators challenged the decision yesterday and overthrew it during a committee meeting presided by KMT Legislator Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟).
“The meeting [on Thursday] was scheduled to be held from 2:30pm to 5:30pm, so whatever happened after 5:30pm should be considered invalid,” KMT Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) said.
KMT legislators Chiau Wen-yan (邱文彥) and Hsu Hsin-ying (徐欣瑩) called Thursday’s vote a “surprise attack.”
“I was sitting in the meeting room when Chen called a vote, but it all happened so fast that I wasn’t able to raise my hand to vote,” Chiau said.
Hsu said she was in her office watching a live broadcast of the meeting.
“I ran as fast as I could to the meeting room when I heard the chairperson call for a vote, but I didn’t make it,” she said.
Chen said he had announced at 5:13pm that the meeting would continue until after a decision was made on the proposed amendments.
“So whatever decision was made after the scheduled ending time is still valid,” Chen said.
Yesterday, KMT lawmakers proposed a vote to decide whether to invalidate the committee’s Thursday decision. The KMT prevailed with seven votes against six and it immediately made a proposal to end the meeting, which again passed by the same tally.
DPP, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and People First Party (PFP) lawmakers condemned the KMT caucus in a news conference after the meeting.
“Revisions to the Assembly and Parade Act are an issue that society has long demanded and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has also spoken several times in favor of amending the law,” Cheng said. “Ma is breaking his own promise and depriving the public of better protection for their right to hold demonstrations.”
TSU Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) accused KMT lawmakers of “overthrowing a legitimate decision adopted by a legislative committee through illegitimate means.”
“Why don’t they just propose disbanding the Internal Administration Committee?” she asked.
PFP Legislator Chang Show-foong (張曉風) questioned whether the KMT was sincere about revising the act.
“I think the KMT doesn’t want to change the law, but it knows it wouldn’t look good to openly oppose to it, so it’s playing tricks to block it,” she said. “I think it would be better if it could be honest about it.”