While it is not perfect, and possibly rushed, the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法), which passed after its third reading in the legislature on Tuesday, is necessary.
In the deeply partisan world of Taiwanese politics, it is unlikely that the governing and main opposition parties would have formulated a more robust piece of legislation if given more time.
The bill would still be languishing in the Legislative Yuan for years to come had it not been passed on the final day of the last legislative session before the presidential and legislative elections on Saturday next week.
Predictably, the voting was strictly along party lines, with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers voting in favor of the bill, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) lawmakers voted against.
Each side accused the other of playing politics with the passage of the bill.
Smaller parties, unconstrained by the usual obstructionist green-blue divide that has plagued the nation in the post-democratization period, offered more constructive comments.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), chairman of the Taiwan People’s Party, said that the act is a good idea in principle and that the wording would not be problematic if it were possible to have a perfectly objective arbiter of whether a person or an action has transgressed the act and is therefore liable to prosecution.
The New Power Party (NPP) attempted to change the wording of the legislation, intending to beef up what it said was a necessary, yet “minimal” step to protect national security.
NPP Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) has strongly advocated barring individuals from taking control of Taiwanese media outlets and of exploiting this position to spread false information on Beijing’s behalf, and the NPP had wanted the legislation to include provisions to this end.
Although the DPP ultimately rejected those changes, the NPP was working to improve important legislation, rather than obstruct it for purely political reasons, as has become expected from the KMT.
KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) accused the DPP of “abusing its legislative majority to force through the bill.”
Tseng is clearly a poor student of democracy and the benefits a legislative majority accords a governing party. He is also being willfully forgetful about how his party behaved when it controlled the legislature for decades.
Beyond the simple political imperative of obstructionism for obstructionism’s sake, the KMT and PFP are concerned that key concepts in the legislation are too loosely defined, which could lead to innocent people being manipulated by agents of foreign — read China — powers and prosecuted under the act.
The DPP has rejected those criticisms.
The KMT and PFP have promised to seek a constitutional interpretation on the legality of the act. While it is unclear whether that would achieve the result they are looking for, it would at least signal their objection to the law in the buildup to the elections.
KMT Deputy Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said, while campaigning for the party’s candidate in Taipei’s eighth electoral district, Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), that the party would amend the act, or repeal it, if it secures a legislative majority in the elections, presumably through a perfectly reasonable use of a legislative majority.
A legislature with no one party holding the majority after the elections would, in theory at least, be desirable, but that would depend on lawmakers being capable of rational debate and working for the benefit of the nation over their party.
Hope springs eternal.
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
In 1955, US general Benjamin Davis Jr, then-commander of the US’ 13th Air Force, drew a maritime demarcation line in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, known as the median line. Under pressure from the US, Taiwan and China entered into a tacit agreement not to cross the line. On July 9, 1999, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) described cross-strait relations as a “special state-to-state” relationship. In response, Beijing dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft into the Taiwan Strait, crossing the median line for the first time since 1955. The PLA has begun to regularly traverse the line. On Sept. 18 and 19, it
Midday in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 16, was sunny and mild. Even with the pandemic’s “social distancing” it was a perfect day for “al fresco” dining with linen tablecloths and sidewalk potted palms outside one of New York City’s elegant restaurants. Two members of the press, outfitted with digital SLR cameras and voice recorders, were dispatched by The Associated Press to cover a rare outdoor diplomatic meeting on one of these New York streets. American diplomat Kelly Craft, Chief of the United States Mission to the United Nations, lunched in the open air with Taiwan’s ambassador-ranked representative in New York, James