The legislature is set to pass amendments to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公務人員選舉罷免法) that would lower the recall thresholds and to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) that would do away with the need to apply for a permit or to inform authorities before staging demonstrations.
The two bills, as well as a proposed amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), were all sent for review by the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee before President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, but committee coconvener Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that due to the opposition of civic groups to the proposed Referendum Act revisions, the other two amendments would be dealt with first.
Following the recommendations of the review committee and cross-caucus negotiations, the amendments would see the recall threshold for supporters of a recall lowered from 2 percent to 1 percent of total voters in an electoral district, while the signature threshold would be lowered from 13 percent to 10 percent.
The time period for the collection of signatures for recalls for all levels of elected representative would be doubled; the threshold for a recall to be considered successful would be changed from requiring “double halves” — the turnout must be more than half of the total number of voters in the electoral district and the number voting for a recall has to exceed half of the valid ballots — to a turnout of a quarter of the number of voters and a simple majority, while the clause that forbids campaigning for a recall would be scrapped.
Under the amendments, the Assembly and Parade Act would be renamed the assembly and parade protection act, the requirement for applying for a permit to stage a demonstration would be changed to allow protesters to voluntarily give authorities prior notice and all the penalties listed in the existing act would be expunged.
The 300m restricted zone around the Presidential Office Building in Taipei would be preserved, but those around international airports, ports and military bases would be cut from 300m to 100m, and those for the presidential and vice presidential residences would be reduced to 50m. The restricted zone around the Executive Yuan, the Examination Yuan, courts and embassies would be cut to 30m. A clause imposing a restricted zone of 30m around hospitals would be added.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said the rights of demonstrators should be protected, but at the same time protesters must take some responsibility to ensure that protests are peaceful and are not hijacked by extremists who want to cause disruption.
While the recall thresholds have been unreasonably high, lowering them should still retain reasonable thresholds, he added.
Denis Chen (陳致豪), president of the Taichung-based advocacy group Total Recall, said he supports the lowering of the recall thresholds, but if the quarter of voters threshold remains it would still be difficult for any recall to succeed.
He called for the requirement to be changed to a simple majority.
Appendectomy Project spokesman Lin Zu-yi (林祖儀) said the requirements on signature collections during the initial phase of a recall process already constitutes a high hurdle.
The project only received 50 to 100 signatures per day during its attempted recall of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers in 2014, he said, adding that if the group had not set up stands to solicit signatures outside polling stations on the day of the nine-in-one elections in late 2014, it would have been difficult for them to collect enough signatures.
Lin said that the lowered thresholds in the amended act would remain difficult to achieve.
‘SMEAR CAMPAIGN’: The ‘Global Times’ accused the DPP of offering politicians in Somaliland bribes and promoting Taiwanese independence by funding US think tanks The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday denounced China’s Global Times for disseminating disinformation about Taiwan, after the Chinese state-run newspaper claimed that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been bribing Somaliland politicians. Taiwan in August last year inaugurated the Taiwan Representative Office in the Republic of Somaliland, which is the nation’s only representative office whose title uses just the name “Taiwan.” The East African country also established a representative office in Taipei, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations. The Chinese-language Global Times on Monday accused the DPP of offering Somaliland politicians and their families considerable bribes, citing anonymous sources. The International Cooperation
Phase 2 clinical trial results of the Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday were published on the Web site of The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine, in an early preview before publication. The study paves the way for other nations to issue emergency use authorizations or produce the Medigen vaccine, given The Lancet’s credibility as a highly respected medical journal with a rigorous peer-review process, Medigen’s international affairs director Lien Chia-en (連加恩) said. Lien said that the study is important as it proposes methods for converting international units for efficacy comparisons. The methods have been used for correlating the efficacy of hepatitis B
Ambassador Theaters on Tuesday announced that its Breeze Center cinemas in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) would close late this month after screening thousands of major Hollywood movies and local favorites over two decades. Ambassador Theaters, one of the largest cinema chain operators in Taiwan, said that Oct. 25 would be the last day the Breeze Center cinemas screen movies, adding that its lease expires on that day. “We sincerely appreciate the support and recognition from audiences in Taipei over the past 20 years,” the company said. “We look forward to seeing you again in the future.” The cinemas started operating in 2001, upon
BUMPING AROUND: A total of 143 people sustained fall injuries at MRT stations or inside trains over eight months, with a majority caused by ‘distracted walking’ Taipei Rapid Transit Corp yesterday urged people to avoid looking at their phones when walking, saying 73 cases of “distracted walking injuries” had occurred in the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system from January to August. As the local COVID-19 situation has been brought under control, passenger traffic has been increasing, reaching about 1.5 million rides per day last month, the company said. However, many passengers have been looking at their phones as they walk through MRT stations, which can lead to collisions with other passengers or injury from falling down stairs. A total of 143 people sustained fall injuries at MRT stations