Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday apologized to the public for the party’s involvement in the controversial amendment to the Accounting Act (會計法), while DPP headquarters and its legislative caucus launched separate efforts to correct the legislation foul-up.
The amendment, passed at the last minute in closed-door cross-party negotiations on Friday last week before the legislature went into recess, was supposed to exempt research grants given by the government to professors and elected officials’ special allowances from being audited.
However, the word “teaching [faculty]” was missing from the amended act’s Article 99-1, which means professors may still face prosecution.
Meanwhile, convicted officials, such as former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who has been in jail since Feb. 19 after he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for using nearly NT$20 million (US$668,500) in taxpayer money to visit hostess bars, will be released once the amendment is promulgated.
“The DPP has to take responsibility for its role in the legislation, which the general society has found difficult to accept. As [party] chairman, I would like to apologize to the people on behalf of the party,” Su said.
In an effort to correct the mistake, which would require either a veto from the Executive Yuan or a reconsideration by the Legislative Yuan before the president signs it into law, Su met Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) at the Executive Yuan yesterday afternoon and asked Jiang to veto the amendment in accordance with the Constitution. Jiang turned down his request.
According to Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文), Jiang reiterated the Cabinet’s stance that it has no plan to veto the bill.
The regulatory agency of the Accounting Act, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, has made its view on the amendment very clear, that decriminalization could be applied to the use of research budgets by professors, Cheng quoted Jiang as saying.
Meanwhile, DPP lawmakers decided to take the matter into their own hands by proposing a reconsideration.
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said at the legislature that she had launched a petition for a reconsideration and should be able to collect the required minimum of 20 signatures to have the proposal discussed in the extra legislative session which is set to begin on Thursday next week.
“If the Executive Yuan refuses to shoulder the responsibility, then the Legislative Yuan should hold itself accountable for the mistake. No matter how the amendment turns out, it shouldn’t be what it looks like now,” she said.
Yeh also called on the Presidential Office to hold off signing the amendment to give the Legislative Yuan ample time to discuss the controversial amendment.
DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), one of the participants in the closed-door meeting that approved the amendment, has come under fire from some pan-green supporters and DPP lawmakers, who said they were never informed about a “secret deal” to free Yen in exchange for stopping the prosecution of professors accused of misusing public grants.
Several DPP local officials urged party headquarters to remove Ker’s position as a legislator-at-large seat, while others called for him to step down as caucus convener.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also urged the DPP to assume responsibility for its mistakes so supporters would keep their faith in the party.
Tsai said the error was more than a “documental mistake” and must be corrected immediately because “there was no point in promulgating the law when everyone knows it is wrong.”
Tsai urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to order the Executive Yuan to submit a veto within 10 days according to Article 3 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution.
Separately, in a pre-recorded interview with Broadcasting Corporation of China which was aired yesterday morning, Jiang reiterated his position that the Executive Yuan would not veto the bill.
A typographical error led to the omission of the word “teaching [faculty],” but this will not affect the application of the amendment to professors, because in the preamble, it is clearly stated that the Accounting Act was revised to include ‘professors’ in the decriminalization package,” Jiang said.
He added that it was not the Executive Yuan’s intent to exclude “professors” from the amendment.
Jiang said the legislature had consulted with the Executive Yuan about the amendment before it went to second and third reading, but apparently, the legislature did not accept the Executive Yuan’s suggestion that exceptions to the decriminalization shall be made to expenditure of public funds for private purposes.
CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT: A new committee would investigate a backlog of US weapons sales to Taiwan, said its chairman, US Representative Mike Gallagher The US should formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, and end its outdated and counterproductive “one China” policy, US Representative Tom Tiffany and 18 other US lawmakers wrote in a petition. “It is time to change the status quo and recognize the reality denied by the US government for decades: Taiwan is an independent nation,” Tiffany told the Epoch Times. “As our long-standing and valued partner, correctly acknowledging their independence from communist China is long overdue.” The resolution also asks the administration of US President Joe Biden to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations and to negotiate a bilateral free-trade
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would