Amendments to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) requiring speakers and deputy speakers of local councils to be elected by open ballots cleared the legislative floor yesterday.
Existing local government law stipulates that speakers and deputy speakers of the councils of special municipalities, cities and counties, and the chairpersons and vice chairpersons of township councils, “shall be elected or recalled by secret ballot by the councilors of the special municipality, county/city councilors, and township/city representatives.”
The amendments changed the wording of the act from “secret” to “registered” votes.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Before the amendments were voted on — following Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) objections to the the proposed amendments — Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers took turns to applaud the change and said the proposal would make local politics more transparent and hold politicians accountable to voters.
Open ballots in local councils are not unconstitutional — as the KMT has alleged — since what the Constitution guarantees is the secrecy of votes, Tainan DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said.
“The councilors are accountable to the electorate through their votes in the councils and they should be properly monitored. Some say that with registered votes, it would be even easier for those who bribe councilors to see if their money has been well spent, but with party politics now dominating local councils, unless an entire party caucus is bribed it is simply impossible for open votes to encourage corruption,” he said, adding that the past “flashing of votes,” which was done to show the representatives’ adherence to party discipline, was ruled not to be a crime by every level of court.
Tainan DPP legislators Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲), Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) and Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) all commented on the proposal after the vote — which easily passed with the DPP’s majority — and lauded it as a great improvement for Taiwan’s democracy and the beginning of the end for rampant bribery in local politics.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the amendments would become a milestone in Taiwan’s democratic development.
“There is a consensus among those who study Taiwan’s politics that local politics has long been plagued by so-called ‘black money.’ During [one-party state rule under the KMT] Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) encouraged local factionism by granting special permission for certain people to run some types of business — such as natural gas, coaches and credit unions. Today our votes ended the KMT’s black money politics and changed the definition of Taiwan’s local politics,” she said.
The amendment is widely seen as being sparked by alleged corruption involving Tainan City Council Speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) of the KMT, who in April was sentenced to a four-year prison term by the Tainan District Court for vote-buying in the city council’s speakership election on Dec. 25, 2014, and was suspended from his position as speaker.
A bilateral relations fact sheet on Taiwan-US relations published on the US Department of State Web site was recently updated to remove statements saying that it acknowledged Beijing’s “one China” position, and that the US does not support Taiwanese independence. The fact sheet is produced by the department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. A previous version of the document opened with the statement: “The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship.” It said the US acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China,” and said that the US “does
INDIRECT MESSAGE? Chinese planes might have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ to take part in drills with a carrier group that was about 500km off the east coast, an analyst said The Chinese military yesterday said it had conducted live-fire drills in waters and airspace off Taiwan’s eastern and southwestern coasts from Friday to Sunday to test and upgrade its joint combat capabilities. The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted the news on Chinese messaging platform WeChat. Over the past few days, authorities in Taiwan and Japan have observed deployments of Chinese planes and ships near Taiwan from a PLA carrier group of five destroyers, a frigate and a resupply ship led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier. The Japanese Ministry of Defense first announced on Monday last week that
China appears to have built mockups of a port in northeastern Taiwan and a military vessel docked there, with the aim of using them as targets to test its ballistic missiles, a retired naval officer said yesterday. Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former lieutenant commander in Taiwan’s navy, wrote on Facebook that satellite images appeared to show simulated targets in a desert in China’s Xinjiang region that resemble the Suao naval base in Yilan County and a Kidd-class destroyer that usually docks there. Lu said he compared the mockup port to US naval bases in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, and in Subic Bay
Police are investigating the death of a Formosan black bear discovered on Tuesday buried near an industrial road in Nantou County, with initial evidence indicating that it was shot accidentally by a hunter. The bear had been caught in wildlife traps at least five times before, three times since 2020. Codenamed No. 711, the bear received extensive media coverage last year after it was discovered trapped twice in less than two months in the Taichung mountains. After its most recent ensnarement last month, the bear was released in the Dandashan (丹大山) area in Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義). However, officials became concerned after the