Taiwan’s lawmakers on Tuesday failed to reach consensus on what should be discussed at a proposed extraordinary session of the Legislature that is expected to start Wednesday.
Cross-party negotiations were held on Tuesday afternoon at which all four party caucuses tried to agree on an agenda for the special session proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The DPP has proposed holding the extraordinary session from Jan. 5-28 to discuss major bills related to two budget plans, constitutional reform and other issues.
Under the DPP’s proposal, the 2022 central government general budget plan and a special budget of NT$237.3 billion (US$8.6 billion) for the procurement of defensive weapons systems will be discussed at the special session.
In addition, constitutional amendment bills that would lower the voting age in Taiwan from 20 to 18 as well as lower the bar for future constitutional reform should also be discussed, according to the DPP.
The DPP has also proposed discussing a contentious amendment to the Local Government Act, which would pave the way for the merger of Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County and for the combined region to be upgraded to a special municipality.
However, the two-hour negotiations did not lead to consensus over an agenda for the proposed special session despite all four party caucuses verbally agreeing to the session and to clear the two budget bills at the Legislature before the Lunar New Year holiday begins on Jan. 31.
As a result of Tuesday’s negotiations, a meeting will be held Wednesday morning attended by all lawmakers to determine whether the special session will be held as proposed and to decide on the agenda.
During the negotiations, three party caucuses expressed support for the inclusion of constitutional reform on the agenda of the special session, though the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) is opposed.
Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠), a legislator from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), said his party wanted the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 to be discussed at the special session.
However, KMT Legislator Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) said while his party welcomes constitutional reform it also considers it imperative that constitutional amendments are discussed more widely first.
Meanwhile, the three opposition parties also voiced their strong opposition to the DPP proposal to discuss the Local Government Act amendment at the special session.
Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), a New Power Party lawmaker, commented that it would be wrong for the Legislature to try to pass the amendment during a special session, which is relatively short, as it would have a significant impact on the country and should therefore be discussed more.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel