Fri, Jul 01, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Anti-discrimination draft review adjourned again

By Hsiao Ting-fang  /  Staff reporter

The legislature’s Internal Administration Committee on Wednesday reviewed the draft legislation for banning “discrimination based on ethnicity,” but as the lawmakers of the two major parties were at loggerheads over fundamental issues, the review has again been adjourned for another meeting.

The committee first reviewed the draft bill in the middle of last month, in response to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) call for a legislation banning discrimination based on ethnic groups, which was made in the wake of an incident early last month involving a woman called Hung Su-chu (洪素珠), a self-proclaimed citizen journalist who verbally attacked a veteran who came to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime in 1949, while he was walking in a park.

During the first review, Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) said that the definition of “discrimination” and how to determine discriminatory behaviors needed clarification.

Lawmakers on Wednesday again had conflicting views over the terms, with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) saying that the term “ethnic group” should first be defined.

DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said that the Constitution, the existing Hakka Basic Act (客家基本法) and the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民基本法) all have provisions concerning the protection of ethnic equality, adding that if a special act on the equality of different groups is to be established, it would call for a complete overhaul that starts with clear definitions.

KMT Legislator Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) said that the term “ill-gotten” in the bill proposed by the DPP caucus to deal with ill-gotten party assets is likewise poorly defined.

Aboriginal KMT Legislator Yosi Takun (孔文吉) said the bill could be called an “anti-racism” bill since Aborigines are more likely to face discrimination.

During the review, the minister said he knows that the lawmakers’ proposal is well-intentioned, but “if the proposal is a response to the [Hung] incident that happened weeks earlier, what needs special attention is the comprehensiveness of the legislation.”

Yeh suggested re-positioning the bill from targeting discrimination to promoting equality, as the two are separate legislative directions and “discrimination” is in itself difficult to define.

There was little agreement during the exchange and none of the articles cleared the committee review process.

KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), the presiding convener of Wednesday’s committee meeting, announced that all of the articles would be reserved for another committee review, which is yet to be scheduled.

She asked the Ministry of the Interior and the Council of Indigenous Peoples to propose their suggestions before Thursday next week.

“[The KMT caucus] hopes to have better discussions with the Executive Yuan and the ministry and will not force through the bill,” Huang said.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said on Facebook after the review that the KMT was staging a “political stunt.”

“The KMT held up the banner of justice in the wake of the Hung incident and gave birth to the bill within two weeks, but [its lawmakers] had no idea how to define ‘discrimination,’ ‘harassment’ or ‘ethnic group’ during the review,” he wrote.

It is “unprecedented” in a democracy to have freedom of speech restricted by “a bill that has such a vague definition of terms and indistinct assignment of regulations,” Lee said.

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