Mon, Oct 12, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Appendectomy Project to promote recall awareness

RECALL RETHINK;The project wants the thresholds to initiate recalls lowered, as it says that current laws make exercising the right of recall prohibitively difficult

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Appendectomy Project yesterday said it plans to hold 88 seminars across the nation — starting on Thursday — to promote public awareness of citizens’ rights to recall elected officials.

Invitations are to be sent to legislative candidates across party lines asking for their signatures to support an amendment to the law that would see the threshold for an official to be recalled lowered, it said.

The group said that Article 17 of the Constitution — which states that the public has the rights of election, recall, and initiating referendums — supported their proposal, but added that exercising the right of recall is more difficult than is commonly believed.

The efforts of the project and the Constitution 133 Alliance to recall Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) and Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) stalled after the petition failed to reach the threshold to pass the second stage, the group pointed out.

The vote to recall Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) proceeded to the third stage, but then failed due to a low voter turnout of 24.98 percent, the group said.

Regulations on recalls require that 2 percent of an official’s constituency sign a petition for a recall at the first stage and 13 percent at the second stage. The final vote requires at least half of the electorate in a constituency cast their ballots, and at least half of those polled agree to the official’s recall.

The Appendectomy Project, along with Taiwan March and the People Rule Foundation, held a rally on Oct. 3 calling for inept legislators to be swept from office and pledging to renew their efforts to amend the law.

“We plan to ask legislators and legislative candidates to support amendments dropping the required threshold in the first stage from 2 percent to 1 percent and from 13 percent in the second stage to 10 percent,” group member Lin Tsu-yi (林祖儀) said. “We also intend for the third stage voting to be changed to a simple majority vote.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior’s planned amendments to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) — which might include an abolition of the rule that “recall votes cannot be spread via propaganda” — have become gridlocked.

The current regulations — that became a focus during Tsai’s recall vote in February — are outdated and should be changed, according to the majority of experts the ministry approached on the issue.

However, what the voter threshold to initiate a recall vote should be has elicited a variety of responses from analysts, with some saying it should be pegged to one third of the total legal voters of a constituency, while others say that half is correct, Civil Affairs Department Deputy Director Luo Rui-ching (羅瑞卿) said.

“We intend to bring to the Legislative Yuan a more complete version of our proposed changes,” she said.

However, Lin criticized the ministry for for what she said was a disappointing attempt to intentionally delay the amendments.

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