The Legislative Yuan yesterday approved the Act Governing International Cooperation and Development (國際合作發展法), which requires the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and relevant agencies to immediately suspend cooperative projects with foreign groups or governments if they harm Taiwan's interests or discriminate against Taiwan or its people.
The act also obliges government branches to seek compensation from those involved in the projects whenever necessary.
Under the act, the ministry and related government agencies must propose feasibility reports conducted by an objective third party for public construction projects costing US$5 million and above if the projects are fully subsidized by Taiwan, launched by MOFA or if purchases are made within the nation at the request of the nations receiving the aid.
The act stipulates the ministry should submit an annual report on the nation’s achievement in pushing international cooperation to the legislature via the Executive Yuan.
Legislators also passed a resolution to exclude nations, groups or individuals involved in or supporting terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering from the list of potential recipients of foreign aid.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liu Sheng-liang (劉盛良), head of the Foreign and National Defense Committee, said that the nation's foreign aid would now be better regulated.
The legislature also passed the Environmental Education Act (環境教育法), obliging staffers of government branches at all levels, including the president and the premier, and employees of state-run enterprises to take four hours of environmental protection classes each year.
The act stipulates that the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) propose a national environmental protection education guideline and review it every four years.
“The EPA and all government agencies should shoulder responsibility to promote environmental protection awareness,” said KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), one of the lawmakers who proposed the bill.
In related developments, KMT Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) proposed to keep offenders convicted of sexually assaulting children behind bars for a minimum of 20 years without parole or sentence them to life or the death penalty without the possibility of a pardon.
Yang told a press conference that relevant statistics showed that the number of sexual assault cases against children in the nation had increased by 1,000 per year.
She proposed establishing a database of child molesters and make the information available to the public for a decade.
“As many as 47 percent of sex offenders were family members or neighbors of the victims — we have to introduce severe punishment to stop them from repeat offending,” she said.
Yang said her proposal was modeled on the US' Jessica's Law — legislation mandating a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life for offenders of sexual assaults against children.
“Children’s human rights should be given priority over the human rights of sexual offenders. [I] would rather put aside the offenders' human rights to protect children's human rights,” she said.
The legislature also passed an amendment to the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法) that will subject people endorsing a product to fines if they knowingly make false or misleading product claims in advertisements or commercials.
The amendment stipulates that endorsers be jointly liable along with the advertiser for compensation owed to victims of false endorsements and testimonials.
As defined by the amendment, the endorser could be any individual or organization that expresses an opinion, presents findings or relates their own experience in an advertisement for the product.
In the future, consumers hurt by false advertising can seek compensation from vendors and their spokespersons through civil litigation.
The amendment was proposed after a series of misleading advertisements featuring endorsements by celebrities sparked widespread controversy.
Existing laws have limited liability for false advertising to the product's vendor, advertising agencies that compose the ads and media outlets that run them.
Only in one instance has the Fair Trade Commission fined a celebrity for making unsubstantiated claims.
In 2008, the commission fined an actress NT$80,000 for claiming in an ad for a brand of women's underwear that one of the company's products could help women lose weight. The claim turned out to be untrue.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA
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