Con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments un­likely to meet dead­line af­ter talks break down

The China Post - - LOCAL -

The leg­isla­tive cau­cus of the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) ac­cused the rul­ing Kuom­intang (KMT) on Tues­day of a lack of sin­cer­ity lead­ing to a break­down in bi­par­ti­san con­sul­ta­tions that will likely squash any chance at amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion in the cur­rent elec­tion cy­cle.

The KMT cau­cus re­jected the charge, how­ever, say­ing that the con­sul­ta­tions did not break down and that it wanted to take another month to dis­cuss pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments.

DPP’s Ac­cu­sa­tion

Af­ter a meet­ing con­vened by Leg­isla­tive Speaker Wang Jin-pyng ( ) to dis­cuss con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments on Tues­day, DPP cau­cus whip Ker Chien-ming ( ) con­demned the KMT for re­ject­ing pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments.

Ker said the KMT asked to put the pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments to fur­ther con­sul­ta­tions and even de­manded that a de­ci­sion by the Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion to hold the 2016 leg­isla­tive and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously be over­turned. KMT Leg­is­la­tor Lai Shyh-bao (

), who heads the party’s Pol­icy Com­mit­tee, de­nied that con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment con­sul­ta­tions had bro­ken down, say­ing the KMT hoped to con­tinue talks.

“The KMT will work hard to per­suade the DPP to sup­port re­viv­ing the right of the Leg­is­la­ture to con­firm the pres­i­dent’s nom­i­nee for premier,” Lai said.

At is­sue, how­ever, is the tim­ing of the process.

The Leg­is­la­ture is sched­uled to go on its sum­mer re­cess on Tues­day, seven months ahead of the pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions sched­uled for Jan. 16, 2016.

Amend­ment Still Needs a

Ref­er­en­dum

Ac­cord­ing to Tai­wan’s Con­sti­tu­tion, af­ter the Leg­is­la­ture passes a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment, it needs to be pub­li­cized for six months, and then put to a ref­er­en­dum of the coun­try’s vot­ers.

Only if the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments win the con­sent of more than half of all el­i­gi­ble vot­ers will they take ef­fect.

Be­cause a six-month pe­riod is needed to pub­li­cize any pro­posed amend­ments and the Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion needs an ad­di­tional 28-day pe­riod ahead of the ref­er­en­dum, Tues­day was vir­tu­ally the last day in which amend­ments could have been passed in time to be voted on in a ref­er­en­dum held with na­tional elec­tions in Jan­uary.

A ref­er­en­dum would have a much higher chance of pas­sage if held in con­junc­tion with the pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions on Jan. 16 be­cause of the high voter turnout needed to meet the ref­er­en­dum’s voter thresh­old re­quire­ments.

But the KMT’s Lai ques­tioned why the ref­er­en­dum had to be held in tan­dem with the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Ex­tra Leg­isla­tive Ses­sion?

Asked if deal­ing with the pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments in one month meant that an ex­tra leg­isla­tive ses­sion would have to be held, Lai only said that it was one of sev­eral op­tions.

DPP Leg­is­la­tor Lee Chun-yi ac­cused Lai of try­ing to link ab­sen­tee vot­ing and the Leg­is­la­ture’s right to con­firm the premier to the KMT’s ac­cep­tance of pas­sage of amend­ments the two par­ties ap­par­ently agree on.

The KMT and DPP both say they sup­port low­er­ing the vot­ing age to 18 from the present 20 and low­er­ing the min­i­mum num­ber of votes a po­lit­i­cal party needs to get leg­is­la­tor-at-large seats to 3 per­cent of the to­tal party votes from the cur­rent 5 per­cent.

The KMT, how­ever, also wanted ab­sen­tee vot­ing rights as well as the right to con­firm the premier, while the DPP wanted to safe­guard ed­u­ca­tion rights and es­tab­lish a na­tional pol­icy to pro­tect the rights of off­shore res­i­dents.

Three fourths of law­mak­ers have to be present and three fourth of those present have to agree to pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments be­fore they can be put to a na­tional ref­er­en­dum.

CNA

Po­lice clash with protesters yesterday in­side the Leg­isla­tive Yuan in Taipei. Protesters from “Tai­wan March” who dis­ap­proved of the Kuom­intang (KMT) cau­cus’ han­dling of con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments on the last pos­si­ble day of ne­go­ti­a­tions stormed the build­ing in or­der to rea­son with KMT party whip Lai Shyh-bao only to be sur­rounded and forced out by author­i­ties.

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