Confiscating Recalls Violates Democracy! Shame on Legislators for Maliciously Raising the Difficulty of Recalls, Daring to Amend the Law against the Flow of Public Opinion!

發布時間 2024.07.04, AT 06:23 PM

The right to recall is one of the constitutional rights for citizens to participate in politics. In the past, the high-threshold recall law was successfully amended in 2016 to lower the threshold and “remove the restriction on recall promotion” through continuous advocacy by civic groups, embodying the spirit of returning power to the people. However, on Thursday (July 4th, 2024), the Legislative Yuan's Internal Adminstration Committee will review the proposal by Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Hsu Yu Chen  to add two new recall thresholds and restrictions, trying to increase the difficulty of recalls! In this regard, Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) insists on its consistent stance, firmly opposes raising or adding recall thresholds, and urges the proposing legislators to withdraw the proposal immediately and actively communicate with civil society instead of depriving people of their recall rights!


Do Not Avoid Public Scrutiny! CCW Raises Three Critical Questions:


CCW Chairman, Tseng Chien Yuan indicated: “In a democratic representative system, people are the masters. Through the electoral system, they empower elected representatives to exercise state power to serve and amplify voices for the public. At the same time, people can also use the recall system to remove unfit elected representatives before their term ends. Thus, the recall system is an important accountability tool for citizens. However, this week, the KMT caucus in the Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee is not only attempting to use the issue of indigenous rights to cover up an unrelated bill to confiscate recall rights, but also, in the absence of social communication, is in a hurry to review the related bill before the session ends. In this regard, CCW urges the KMT caucus, as public servants, to clearly explain to the public!”

1. Why Arbitrarily Raise Recall Thresholds and Aviod Public Scrutiny?

The Director of Yin Hai-Kuang Goundation, Hong San Xiong, indicated: “The current opposition party legislators are undermining Taiwan's rule of law through legislative amendments,severely damaging the achievements of Taiwanese people's pursuit of freedom and democracy over the past thirty years. For a good legislator, people are eager to re-elect them, so why would they want to recall them? Today, Kuomintang legislators fail to reflect on themselves and instead propose to raise the recall threshold to protect themselves. This is quite embarrassing. Could the next step be amending the law to revert to the old-style parliament? We call on the civic forces to step up and pay attention to the Legislative Yuan at this critical moment, otherwise our hard-earned democratic foundation will be eroded!"


2. Why Rush to Review and Approve Without Adequate Social Communication?

CCW Executive Director, Zhang Hong Lin commented: “The number of bills passed by the current Legislative Yuan is far below the performance of the previous session, indicating that there are many important priority bills yet to be addressed. Moreover, the recall case of Keelung Mayor Hsieh Kuo Liang is in full swing. The KMT caucus did not review relevant proposals in the previous session but deliberately chose this timing to review, at the expense of important livelihood bills, with questionable motives!”


3. Why Modify the Rules Retroactively, Breaking the Political Contract?

Taiwan Forever Association Chairman, Huang Di Ying questioned: “Voters know the term and recall procedures of the current legislators when they vote, forming a "democratic political contract." If the recall threshold is raised and applied to the current legislators after the election, it may violate democratic principles. The interpretation of Constitution No. 499 by the Justice explains that representatives should avoid conflicts of interest in relevant bills. CCW believes that if the election and recall law needs to be amended, the threshold should be lowered to avoid self-serving legislation. This proposal to amend the law does not clearly explain the scope of application. Raising the recall threshold whenever faced with a recall case shows the KMT as a repeat offender!”


Raising the Recall Threshold Whenever Faced with a Recall Case Shows the KMT as a Repeat Offender!


CCW Executive Director, Zhang Hong Lin commented: “The recall system is designed to compensate for the shortcomings of representative politics, ensure the complete sovereignty of the people, and also serve as a warning to elected representatives and officials, forcing them to engage in more social communication with voters. However, when faced with a recall, the KMT caucus’s first reaction is not to communicate with voters but to hastily propose amendments to raise the recall threshold. Reviewing the legislative history of the Election and Recall Law shows no progress at all!”

Looking back at the history of amendments to the Recall Act for Public Officials, the Kuomintang caucus has shown no progress at all. The 'Birdcage Recall Act' of 1994 was tailored for specific individuals and was heavily criticized by many experts, scholars, and civic groups at the time! By 2014, facing heightened civic awareness, KMT legislators once again proposed amendments to the Election and Recall Act, requiring petitioners to attach a 'copy of their ID card' and a 'declaration,' maliciously attempting to raise the difficulty of recalls. This shows they have long been habitual offenders against democracy. At that time, legislator Huang Kuo-chang urged that procedural obstacles should not hinder people's exercise of their recall rights! CCW believes that legislators, as representatives, should actively consider how to assist the people in exercising 'direct democracy.' However, now they have turned amendments to the Election and Recall Act into a power game of adjusting numerical thresholds, lacking thorough consideration of the recall system and hindering the exercise of citizens' recall rights. Such self-serving legislation is not welcomed by the public!"

Opposing the Raising of Recall Thresholds, Urging the KMT And DPP Not to be Enemies of Democracy!

CCW Supervisor, Lin Mei Nuo, commented: "The recall system is one of the important means to embody direct democracy. Currently, although the KMT holds a majority in the Legislative Yuan, it is a fragile majority. When promoting controversial legislation, they should incorporate different public opinions rather than force bills through. Since the Blue Bird Movement in May, CCW has been warning both the ruling and opposition parties not to misjudge the situation and oppose democratic institutions! In the previous expansion of parliamentary powers, there was no consideration of legislators' self-discipline. Now, proposing to raise the recall threshold and failing to review whether the Political Donations Act should be included for scrutiny, various professional civic groups across Taiwan must continually step forward to defend the democracy of the Taiwanese people. The Legislative Yuan should deeply reflect on these issues!"


Hsu Jinfa, the Deputy Secretary-General of Taiwan Association of University Professors, believes: “While the system of the Election and Recall Act can indeed be discussed, it must be approached from a constitutional perspective. We should not waste legislative resources by only considering party interests without thinking about the welfare of the entire populace. In the past, the birdcage recall act, even if petitions were successful, failed due to unreasonable provisions such as restrictions on publicity, rendering the recall system virtually ineffective. It was not until 2016 that thresholds were finally lowered with great difficulty. Now, under the guise of maintaining political stability, the authorities are depriving people of their right to participate in politics, which is quite shameful!”


Comparing with foreign recall systems, it can be seen that Taiwan's recall system is currently more stringent and complicated in terms of proposals, signatures, and thresholds. CCW believes that if proposers are required to attach a copy of their ID card, the signature period should be extended accordingly. Otherwise, it is just a disguised way to raise the recall difficulty, continuously harming the basic political participation rights of the people. CCW solemnly urges politicians to face recalls, first review their own problems, actively communicate with voters, instead of secretly amending the law behind the scenes, disguising raising the recall difficulty. If the KMT caucus insists on selfishly amending the Election and Recall Law, they will naturally bear the political consequences! Also, remind the TPP’s caucus to fulfill their promises and not aid in raising the recall threshold!

Key Points of the Press Conference:


  1. Firmly oppose raising or adding recall thresholds, urging proposing legislators to withdraw the proposal!

  2. The amendment of the Election and Recall Law should not become a power game of adjusting numerical thresholds. The KMT caucus should positively respond to public doubts!

  3. Remind the TPP caucus to fulfill their promises and not aid in raising recall thresholds!

  4. If the proposal to confiscate recall rights is forcibly pushed out of the committee, legislators who support it should bear the political consequences!