Presidential Office helps Cabinet block ‘Truth Commission’

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff and Agencies

The Presidential Office yesterday endorsed a decision by the Cabinet to send the controversial “March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute” back to the Legislative Yuan for reconsideration. The Cabinet will send the bill back to the Legislature by September 3 — the deadline for the Executive Yuan to return the bill to the Legislative Yuan. The Republic of China Constitution specifies that the Cabinet may return a bill to the national assembly within 10 days. The Executive Yuan was consulting with the legislative caucus of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party all day yesterday on a strategy for nullifying the bill. The Presidential Office backed the Cabinet’s decision to send the bill back on grounds that the statute violates the principle of division of power among the various branches of the government. The establishment of such a committee — advocated by mostly pan-blue legislators — would usurp the powers of both the Judicial and Control Yuans, the government has claimed. The Presidential Office’s endorsement was a formality. The Constitution stipulates that a bill can be referred back to the Legislature for reconsideration after the Cabinet’s reconsideration request was approved by the president.

The Legislature has to handle the reconsideration request within 15 days after it is received. If the Cabient delivers such a request during the legislative recess, the Legislature has to convene within seven days and must make a decision within 15 days after convening.

To override the Cabinet’s veto and uphold the original statute, at least 109 lawmakers — a simple majority of the 217 seats in the 225-seat Legislature that are presently filled — have to vote in favor of the statute, otherwise the statute will be invalidated.

If the reconsideration request is rejected by the Legislature, the statute will then return to the executive branch where it must be signed into law by the president. Please see TRUTH on page

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said last week that in light of the fact that the opposition “pan-blue alliance” of the Kuomintang and the People First Party jointly control a slim majority in the Legislature, the alliance might succeed in upholding the statute.

Nevertheless, Yu said, the Cabinet has to show it has done its part by pointing out the unconstitutionality of the statute. He urged the Legislative Yuan to shoulder the historic nature of the statute and rescind it. The Cabinet made the announcement as the much-awaited report on the presidential election-eve shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu just completed by world-renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee was sent from New York to the office of Taiwan’s top prosecutor yesterday. The report package, bound with an “evidence security seal,” contains the 130-page report, 150 photographs, an optical disc and a letter from Lee to State Public Prosecutor-General Lu Ren-fa.

The package was received by Taiwan’s chief liaison official in New York, Andrew Hsia, and then delivered via diplomatic post to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei before reaching Lu’s office.

The opposition “pan-blue alliance” of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the People First Party held a series of rallies, including one on April 10 that ended violently, after the March 20 election to protest what they perceived as an “unfair election” marred by voting irregularities and the “bogus” shooting that gave the incumbent president sympathy votes.

Chen beat his competitor, KMT Chairman Lien Chan, by only 29,518 votes out of the more than 13 million ballots cast.

The report has created disputes from all sides, with both the pan-blue and pan-green alliances spinning it to their favor.