Reforming recall law
I am writing in response to the articles “Lim calls for a halt to further recalls” and “Lin thanks Taichung voters after victory” published by the Taipei Times (Jan. 11, page 3). Sunday’s voting results in Taipei and Taichung thankfully prove to be a positive trend toward electing and endorsing appropriate lawmakers to represent their constituents.
Many of us breathed a sigh of relief as independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) survived his recall vote, and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator-elect Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) successfully avenged the unceremonial unseating of Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s (TSP) Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) and retained the seat under a DPP-TSP alliance.
Disturbingly, there is still a very high proportion of voters in these electorates who still insist on voting against diligence, fairness, justice and equality from their elected representative.
After the series of recall and by-election votes since the last general elections in 2020, Taiwan’s electoral laws regarding recalls must be amended at the soonest opportunity to represent community expectations, and avoid being abused by those with ulterior motives.
The repercussions of continuous revenge recalls initiated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or pan-blue affiliated groups and people since the successful recall vote against former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) have cumulatively cost Taiwanese taxpayers NT$1.8 billion (US$65.16 million), and cost legislators Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇) of the DPP and Chen their seats, while independent Lim and Kaohsiung City Councllor Huang Jie (黃捷) survived their recall votes.
Taxpayer funds should not be wasted in such a fashion to satisfy one’s twisted motives for political and financial gain. This makes a mockery of electoral laws and results of fair, transparent democratic elections.
Under the current law, the costs of initiating and staging a recall vote is not the responsibility of the initiating party, nor the person who initiates the motion. Those with ulterior motives that can affect the local political landscape can therefore use the recall law at their will to remove politicians they do not like, particularly from smaller parties and independents. This was amply demonstrated by Taichung’s Yen family, patriarch Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), serial sore loser Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒) and their role in unseating Chen to protect their family’s business interests.
To protect taxpayer funds and maintain integrity, it would be highly advisable to level some proportion of financial and legal responsibility of such costs to the initiating party. In addition, there must be stiff penalties (financial or otherwise) for false recall alliance forms that are submitted to the Central Election Commission by the initiating party. A disproportionate amount of Chen and Lim’s recall alliance forms were proven to be falsified and even included forms filled by many who are no longer with us. This should not happen.
Finally, there must be a proportional amount of votes required to recall an incapacitated politician. I believe 25 percent of the most recent vote is far too low and does not represent an accurate voice of the constituency. While I feel at least 35 to 40 percent would be better, this must be debated in the legislature by elected representatives and legal experts to ensure a fair and reasonable amendment.
If these laws are not amended appropriately, dedicated, high-performing legislators like Chen will continue to fall due to political infighting between legislative factions.
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