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Taiwanese parliament passes contentious bill amid protests

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Speaker Han Kuo-yu (C) knocking the gavel to pass Parliament Reform Bills in Taipei on May 28 (Photo/AFP)

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, May 30: Taiwan’s parliament on Tuesday passed a contentious legislation that grants lawmakers expanded investigative power, and limiting the authority of the newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te. The bill, pushed by opposition alliance Kuomintang (KMT) or Chinese Nationalist Party, and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) has sparked widespread protest across the nation.

The contentious bill will give lawmakers the power to demand the military, private companies, and individuals to disclose information deemed relevant by parliamentarians. Additionally, it criminalises government officials’ contempt of Parliament and mandates that the president provide regular reports to Parliament and answer lawmakers’ questions, a requirement unprecedented in Taiwan’s history. This move is seen as a direct curtailment of President Lai Ching-te’s powers.

Proponents of the bill from the KMT and TPP argue that it will enhance checks and balances by giving the legislature more authority to address corruption. However, these parties are perceived as friendly to Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, heightening concerns about the bill’s implications. Following the bill’s passage, thousands of protesters took to the streets, denouncing the legislative changes as “favourable to China” and “undemocratic.”

Legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have accused the KMT and TPP of undermining Taiwan’s democracy, claiming the reforms were implemented without “proper consultation” and “lacking clarity.” The DPP contends that the new law not only jeopardises Taiwan’s democratic principles but also represents an overreach of parliamentary power.

Critics fear that the legislation could be exploited by China to influence Taiwan’s political landscape which Beijing claims as its own territory. Others argue that the opposition parties might use the expanded powers to obstruct President Lai’s administration over the next four years. 

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