The Ministry of the Interior recently rejected an application for the establishment of a political party named after NBA sensation Jeremy Lin (林書豪), saying that using someone’s name as the title of a political party runs counter to the common practices of democratic politics and violates the Civil Code.
The Civil Associations Act (人民團體法) stipulates that individuals who wish to set up a political party are required to request an establishment conference with the central regulating authority for registration, before submitting the constitution of the party and a roster of its founders within 30 days of the meeting.
Following Lin’s meteoric rise at the New York Knicks earlier this year, an application for a political party named after the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent was filed with the ministry in March along with the necessary documentation.
However, the ministry turned down the application via a letter on March 27, saying the title of the party did not conform to the purposes of its establishment and that naming the party after an uninvolved individual stood in violation of the Civil Code and ran counter to democratic norms.
When the applicant then sought to change the party’s appellation to his own name, the ministry again rejected the case on May 10.
“Both the use of the applicant’s name and the names of others as the denomination of a political party go against common practices, with the latter also infringing on the Civil Code,” the ministry said in its rejection letter.
Dissatisfied with the decree, the applicant then filed an appeal with the ministry’s Petition and Appeals Committee, citing as an example the approval in December 1999 of the establishment of a party, titled Zhongshan Party — named after Republic of China (ROC) founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), who is also commonly referred to as Sun Zhongshan (孫中山).
The petitioner also said that the Civil Associations Act did not place any specific restrictions on the choice of political party appellations.
The committee dismissed the appeal early this month, saying that establishing political ties and holding promotional events through a party bearing Lin’s name could easily mislead the public and violate the principle of good faith.
Although the Civil Associations Act does not stipulate limitations on the naming of political parties, the ministry still takes into account the conformity between a party’s title and its tenets when reviewing applications.
An application filed by a group of academics who wished to establish the Taiwan Pirate Party with the aim of raising awareness about copyright issues and push for the reform of the Patent Act (專利法) was also denied by the ministry last year due to the discrepancy between the party’s denomination and the purposes of its establishment.
“The title of the party is unrelated to its tenets of bringing reforms to the nation’s copyright system and could give a false impression to the public that the party is comprised of actual pirates,” the ministry said at the time.
According to ministry statistics, there are 230 political parties nationwide.
The statistics showed that the five oldest political parties in the country are the China Republican Party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Chinese Youth Party, the Youth China Party and the China Middle and Youth Party.
The term “Taiwan” first appeared in the titles of political parties in March 1990, when the Taiwan Aborigine Party — the predecessor of the Indigenous People’s Party — was founded.
As the sense of Taiwanese identity rose during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration, an increasing number of political parties were established at the time whose appellations contained “Taiwan.”
A number of political parties that include the word “communist” in their titles, including the Taiwan Communist Party, the Communist Party of Republic of China and the China Communist Alliance, have also been established in the country in the past few years, following a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices in June 2008 that decriminalized the use of the word.
The constitutional interpretation invalidated Article 2 of the Civil Associations Act which prohibited organizations and civil associations from advocating communism.