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Congress Reform Facts

Congress Reform Facts

This page uses ChatGPT for translation, which may result in some discrepancies in names. For the most accurate information, please refer to the original Chinese version.

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Q: It sounds like the draft for the congressional reforms was publicly known, but amendments were introduced on the voting day. How much time was there between the final version being distributed to everyone and the actual voting?

A: According to Legislative Procedure Rule 11, amendments can be made during the second reading discussions or during the third reading, and they require the endorsement of at least ten members to be valid.

In this instance, the Kuomintang (KMT) submitted their amendments at 7 AM on May 17th. The staff then printed and distributed these amendments to all 113 legislators present. This procedure is both compliant and legal. Similarly, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also submitted their amendments on the same morning at 7 AM. The voting results, including our approval, are in line with process adherence.

Amendments are typically filed on the spot and thus can't be immediately published online. This has been the standard practice for all parties involved. Nonetheless, all legislative staff and members present have access to printed copies during voting, and post-vote there are review reports and meeting records usually available by the next midday working hour.

From my perspective, having more time and faster online publication could definitely be an improvement worthy of discussion. However, such changes would likely require amendments to legislative rules and might involve procedural defenses. If any party believes the rules should be revised for earlier and more transparent publishing of amendments, it would be a reasonable discussion point. However, critiquing a specific party under the current rules seems inappropriate.

Q: Was there sufficient discussion?

A: The Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee conducted several public hearings and special reports on 3/21, 4/3, 4/10, and 4/11, including one detailed session on 4/15 that lasted over 10 hours. However, due to over 40 motions to adjourn and extended debates on minor details, no conclusive discussions were reached, and the matter was referred to party negotiations.

Negotiations among the three main parties took place on 5/8, but no consensus was reached (all parties were involved), which then led to the second reading in the House.

For context, during the 2016-2020 ninth session, out of 635 cases with no consensus during negotiations, 558 cases (87.87%) were still passed by majority vote during the third reading.

I can't definitively claim what constitutes "sufficient" discussion, but to say there was no discussion or transparency seems exaggerated. In a democracy, there can always be more discussions, and I support that. But how do we define "sufficient"?

Q: Was the legislation made public?

A: In conclusion, the integrated version coordinated by KMT and the People's Party is a complete document, not a draft, and I have uploaded it to the IPFS system: (opens in a new tab)

According to Legislative Procedure Rule 11, amendments can be proposed during the second or third readings and require at least ten co-signatures to be valid.

The KMT submitted their amendments at 7 AM, and the amendments were printed and distributed to all legislators present, fully compliant and legal. Such amendments, filed on the spot, were not meant to be published online immediately, a practice consistent across all parties. However, legislative staff and everyone present at the session had access to printed copies during the vote, and post-session there are review reports and meeting records available.

As for online publication, legislative staff typically upload documents to the website by midday the next working day. I agree that quicker digitization is possible, but the staff are already doing their best—please offer them some encouragement!

This session (5/17) addressed five major parliamentary reform bills proposed by the KMT and the People's Party, including strengthening personnel confirmation rights, Legislative Yuan investigative rights, regular National Reports to the President, Contempt of Congress laws, and named voting for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. These reforms entail multiple existing law amendments, involving various proposals from different parties, which after extensive coordination, resulted in a joint version. This joint version was submitted before the session, and the DPP's amendments were also submitted early morning on the same day. There were no issues with transparency regarding the law texts.

Q: Does the Congressional Reform Bill address criminal penalties for individuals, corporations, and enterprises?

A: The proposed Article 47 of the "Act Governing the Exercise of Legislative Powers" extends to relevant entities, but it only includes fines and not criminal penalties.

This seems reasonable for now. In the U.S. Congress, companies or individuals called to testify cannot lie, as this constitutes perjury, a federal crime subject to significant legal penalties, including fines and imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Furthermore, Congress can initiate criminal perjury charges and refer cases to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Honest testimony is crucial for congressional investigations, and violations can severely impact the legal system and governmental operations.

Article 59-1 concerns criminal law but has not yet been voted on and primarily addresses leaking confidential information, a matter likely to have bipartisan support.

Q: Why use the outdated method of "raising hands for votes" when there are voting machines on the desks?

A: The Legislative Procedure Rule 35 explicitly states:

Voting methods include:

  • Oral voting,
  • Raising hands for voting,
  • Voting machines,
  • Ballot voting,
  • Roll call voting.
  • The method to be used from the first to fourth options is to be decided by the Chairman’s announcement.

While the KMT supports the use of voting machines, repeated violent disruptions and threats to the safety of the Chair and staff by the DPP have made it necessary to resort to raising hands for a voting process to avoid further incidents.

Q: Why were the provisions not read out individually before voting?

Provisions were indeed read out individually.

Meeting times for the reading were:

  • 18:51:22 for Article 2,
  • 20:43:28 for Article 15,
  • 21:05:35 for Article 15-1,
  • 21:48:54 for Article 15-2,
  • 22:09:08 for Article 15-4,
  • 22:59:15 for Article 17,
  • 23:20:05 for Article 22,
  • 23:45:27 for Article 23.

Available for viewing at: (opens in a new tab)

Q: Are the Parliamentary Reform Five Laws an overreach or unconstitutional?

Yes, they expand powers →

However, which party holds the majority in Congress is decided every four years, making any long-term benefits politically neutral.

Within Taiwan's system, aside from the Legislative Yuan, the only other checking body is the Control Yuan. If the Control Yuan, led by Chen Chu, fails to perform its duties, who else can oversee the government?

Not unconstitutional →

The KMT’s proposed reform is essentially the same as laws proposed by the DPP back in 2014.

President Tsai Ing-wen's 2016 campaign included establishing a hearing and investigation system as part of her reform promises; she and other DPP members like Lai Ching-te have historically supported regular National Reports and investigative hearings.

For further reference, see Tsai's 2015 congress reform agenda: (opens in a new tab)

The recommendation for local councilors' name voting, supported during Lai Ching-te's tenure, proposed extending this to the national level: (opens in a new tab)

Q: The National Federation of Attorneys released a statement criticizing the 5/17 congressional procedures. Your thoughts?

A: The current head of the National Federation of Attorneys, Yu Mei-nu, is a former DPP legislator. The decision to issue the statement lacked transparent representation, and the present Lawyers Act utilizes compulsory membership which puts into question the extent of representation.

Yu Mei-nu and other DPP members involved in past boycotts had also proposed expanding congressional investigative powers, specifically:

  • Including specific procedures for interaction with Congress, allowing for a robust application of legislative oversight, not constrained by confidentiality clauses.

Mandatory membership in the local bar association (like the Taipei Bar Association with around 7,000 members) led to controversy with several members disassociating from the statements made, indicating that this statement might only reflect certain political biases.

Q: So did the legislators know what they were voting on during the session?

A: (Referencing (opens in a new tab))

"On the day of the vote, every member had the amended motions on their desks. Each legislator saw these amendments unless there was intentional avoidance of discussion. The DPP, instead of discussing, started disruptive behavior and rhetoric about democracy and loyalty, avoiding substantial debate.

Regarding the awareness of the legislative content, while reading out the laws before voting, it’s expected that non-legislators would hear this despite the disorderly conduct during the session.

In essence, even if the text remains unchanged, the content of other acts might not raise concern as representatives are trusted to manage these reviews. Any outrageous final texts submitted by a party will face electoral consequences, making each legislator accountable."

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