Sun, Aug 25, 2013 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Neil Peng urges public to recall ‘bad’ lawmakers

Fed up with what it says is the arbitrary policymaking of President Ma Ying-jeou’s administration — as seen in its demolition of private residences, building of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and autocratic handling of the cross-strait service trade pact — civic group Constitution 133 Alliance has launched a recall campaign against lawmakers it says have forsaken their duty to be the voice of the people. In an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Tzou Jiing-wen, screenwriter and author Neil Peng, one of the founders of the newly formed alliance, called on the public to square up to incompetent lawmakers and stop them from “bullying” Taiwanese by subjecting them to recall bids

With his second and final term as president set to expire in 2016, Ma could not care less about public opinions and people’s views.

However, if the recall effort succeeds, he might have to start watching his back, because once people start removing incompetent lawmakers aligned with him, they are just one step away from deposing the president if he implements policies that go against the public interest.

LT: How do you plan to overcome the high threshold for recalling a legislator?

Peng: We are planning to distribute letters of commitment to all legislators asking them whether they are in favor of passing an amendment [to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法)] to lower the recall threshold. Those who oppose the plan would be deemed incompetent lawmakers who only pursue their personal interests rather than the good of the nation.

We will also ask candidates for next year’s legislative election to include support for the amendment in their campaign platforms. Those who refuse to do so will be labeled as thinking that being elected is akin to being given a free pass that allows them to sit back and cast aside their responsibilities once they assume office.

As for those who do comply with our requests, we will still monitor their performance if they are elected.

LT: What concrete measures does the alliance plan on taking to attain its goals

Peng: Due to financial constraints, we are aiming to launch a blog that will serve as the starting point for our campaign.

We are also planning to compile a report detailing people’s right to recall, which we will distribute along with other forms required to remove officials via the Internet.

Once we draw up a list of the legislators to be included in the recall campaign, we will publish their names on the blog and begin our recall bid, which requires a minimum of 2 percent of the total electorate in each legislators’ respective electoral districts to propose the bid for it to be legitimate. The motion must also be jointly petitioned by no less than 13 percent of the total electorate if it is to be put to a vote.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) recently threatened to initiate a recall motion against lawmakers aligned with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) or former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). Since every citizen is entitled to exercise their right to recall elected officials, Wu should feel free to carry out his threat as long as he has just cause for doing so.

The selection of legislators to be put up for removal will be carried out mainly based on their responses to the letters of commitment because unwillingness to make these pledges is a pretty solid indicator of incompetence.

In addition, we will compare lawmakers’ campaign platforms to what they have done after being elected to determine if they “qualify” for the campaign, while conducting an online survey asking people to list the legislators they think are key figures in the Ma camp.

We plan to finish this preparatory phase within a month and then begin the recall efforts.

The campaign will judge lawmakers by their performance, rather than their political affiliation. Those who have lived up to their duties have nothing to worry about because Taiwanese are not idiots and would never endorse the baseless removal of an elected representative.

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