Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers urge scrapping of national security laws to protect mountaineers

By Su Fun-her  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Karen Yu, center, discusses a proposed amendment to Article 5 of the National Security Act as DPP Legislator Huang Kuo-shu, second left, listens at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

In a bid to protect mountaineers from facing legal liabilities, lawmakers yesterday called for the abolition of Article 5 of the National Security Act (國家安全法) to be prioritized for legislative review in the upcoming legislative session.

The long-standing legislative drive gained newfound attention after Gigi Wu (吳季芸) died on Tuesday after falling into a gorge in Penjushan (盆駒山) in Nantou County.

She was found to have climbed the mountain without a permit.

The article stipulates that to ensure the safety of military and coast guard facilities and maintain order in mountainous areas, mountains designated by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of the Interior are off-limits to ordinary citizens.

People who wish to climb these mountains must file an application and obtain a permit, it states.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Karen Yu (余宛如) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday that Taiwan has 268 mountains with an altitude of at least 3,000m above sea level.

New Zealand, where blockbuster Lord of the Rings was filmed, and Japan, home to Mount Fuji, combined have fewer than 50 mountains that are at least 3,000m high, she said.

There is a drop list on the Web site where applications to climb mountains can be filed, but it only lists mountains that people can apply to climb, which is confusing as it does not tell people which mountains they cannot climb, she said.

She called on the ministries to revise the Web site before the act is amended to list which mountains cannot be climbed without a permit, so that people would not unwittingly break the law.

She asked the Cabinet to start interdepartmental discussions within three months to come up with methods that would grant climbers wider access to mountains.

Calling the article “outdated,” DPP Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) urged the ministries to implement more “hiker-friendly” application regulations.

Last year, the Tourism Bureau ran a commercial promoting mountaineering tours to foreign visitors, but the existing rules are confusing even for locals, let alone foreigners, he said.

Ministry of National Defense Operations and Planning Division head Major General Yeh Kuo-hui (葉國輝) said that the proposed amendment had been discussed at cross-caucus negotiations and is pending a second review.

Officials from the ministries who attended the news conference expressed unanimous support for the proposed amendment.

National Police Agency official Chen Wen-lung (陳文龍) said the application process has been simplified and people can file applications at designated offices or online.

Police patrolling restricted mountains would ask climbers without a permit to leave and would only charge them with breaking the law if they refused to comply, he said.

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