Tue, Apr 23, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Group urges better cross-strait oversight

‘THE FIRST STEP’:Proposed changes to rules on cross-strait deals should include a clause to empower the Council of Grand Justices to nullify deals, a group said

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Members of several civic groups, including Taiwan Citizen Front and Economic Democracy Union, hold signs that read: “Defend democracy, draw a red line over political deals” and “Sovereignty and democratic freedoms are not for sale,” at a protest outside the Legislative Yuan’s Chun Hsien Building in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Citizen Front yesterday urged the Legislative Yuan to incorporate mechanisms to nullify illegal cross-strait agreements into a draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).

Lawmakers began reviewing the draft amendment, which was proposed by the Executive Yuan.

“We are not against cross-strait negotiations, but there should be a bottom line to ensure that we do not lose our sovereignty and democracy,” group founder and lawyer Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said at a rally outside the legislature.

The draft amendment could be the most important legislation this legislative session, because “it is the first step to building a mechanism for defending Taiwan’s democracy,” he said.

According to the draft amendment, cross-strait agreements must not involve any issues that might alter or undermine the nation’s sovereignty and constitutional democracy.

Moreover, before the government engages in any cross-strait negotiation involving political issues, the Executive Yuan must submit an outline and an impact evaluation report for legislative review.

The plan must be approved by three-quarters of lawmakers in a meeting attended by at least three-quarters of the legislative body.

The final agreement must be re-evaluated and again be approved by three-quarters of lawmakers and pass a nationwide referendum, with more than half of the electorate voting yes.

While an earlier version allowed the Executive Yuan to hold a consultative referendum to gauge public opinion on a proposed negotiation plan, the provision was later removed to avoid complexity.

While the group supports building a review mechanism to increase oversight for cross-strait negotiation, it urged legislators to add a provision on how to handle illegal cross-strait agreements, such as those made without the approval of the legislature or contravening the Constitution, group member and Academia Sinica associate research fellow Chiou Wen-tsong (邱文聰) said.

“The amendment should enable the Council of Grand Justices to order government agencies to cease carrying out illegal cross-strait agreements and undo related changes after individuals or organizations request them,” he said.

It should also clearly define a cross-strait agreement involving political issues, Chiou said.

Any agreements on developing military cooperation or international status, or those involving cross-strait political relations and sovereignty should be included, he said.

While the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has proposed signing a peace treaty with China, it is unlikely that Beijing would sign it without requiring Taiwan to accept the “one China” principle, group member Chiang Min-yen (江旻諺) said.

Such an agreement could be a “trap” that prevents Taiwan from ever becoming independent, he said.

None of the group’s proposals was adopted during a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee to review the draft amendment.

As no consensus was reached during the review, the amendment was sent to cross-caucus negotiations.

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