While agreeing that the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) may need revision, many Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers voiced their concern yesterday that lifting restrictions in the law may lead to chaos.
“Under the current law, organizers of a rally or parade have to obtain permission in advance and this clearly violates Article 14 of the Constitution [which protects the right to assemble],” KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) told a public hearing held by the KMT legislative caucus on the revision of the law. “With the pre-approval system, the law could easily become a tool of political manipulation.”
KMT Legislator Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) agreed, and cited examples of the campaign to topple former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) back in 2006.
“While applications filed by campaign members to hold rallies were all approved in KMT-controlled counties and cities, Democratic Progressive Party-controlled counties and cities mostly rejected the applications,” she said.
Activists proposed that the pre-approval system should be changed to a pre-notice system under which rally organizers would only need to notify local police authorities in advance so that they can make adequate preparations.
Although they agreed that the pre-approval system has its defects and should be replaced with a pre-notice system, many KMT lawmakers were still worried the change could bring social chaos.
“The pre-approval system could be changed to the pre-notice system, but there should still be some kind of application and check process,” KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) told the public hearing. “For the sake of social stability, adequate restrictions should still be implemented, otherwise [demonstrations] may lead to anarchic situations. It’s very dangerous.”
The chairwoman of the Taipei International Cultural Exchange Association for Professional Women, Ling Yu-ying (凌瑜英), expressed strong opposition to amending the Assembly and Parade Law.
“The freedom and security of the majority and social order should be protected in a democracy, but [amending] the Assembly and Parade Law only protects the freedom of a few people,” Ling said. “Look at how chaotic it can be even with so many police officers present and the pre-approval system in place.”
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