Taipei-The presidential candidate of the opposition People First Party (PFP) criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government Wednesday for trying to force through a controversial anti-infiltration bill before the end of the year, an action he said was a violation of procedural justice.
James Soong (???) reiterated his party's strong opposition to the DPP-drafted Anti-Infiltration Act during the second political platform presentation by the three candidates running in the Jan. 11 presidential election, including incumbent Tsai Ing-wen (???) and Han Kuo-yu (???) of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
"It totally violates procedural justice" that President Tsai wants the Legislative Yuan to pass the legislation on Dec. 31 without having the bill first discussed by administrative departments or legislative committees, the PFP chairman said.
"There are more than 2 million Taiwanese business people in China, and there are also a great deal of religious and travel exchanges (between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait)," Soong said.
"Any negligence in the fact-finding process could cause public panic, further impacting the government's authority and people's trust in the government."
He accused Tsai of trying to bypass democratic procedures to force through the bill, describing such an approach as being no different to McCarthyism, which he called "a blemish on United States democracy" and a tool used by the Republicans to attack the Democrats.
McCarthyism is the name given to a period in the 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) conducted a series of investigations and hearings in an effort to expose supposed communist infiltration of the U.S. government.
The term is now used to describe the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.
Soong urged President Tsai to exercise restrain in the use of power.
In her platform presentation, Tsai defended the draft Anti-Infiltration Act, which she touted as the "legal basis" for efforts to stop Beijing from "comprehensively infiltrating Taiwan."
She insisted that fear (of China) is so great in Taiwan that society wants the government to do something about it.
While many countries are working on draft anti-infiltration laws, including Australia, "some people in Taiwan, however, regard the government's efforts to establish a network to protect democracy as a provocation akin to the enforcement of martial law," Tsai said.
The president asked those who oppose the draft act to single out what practices stated in the law should not be banned, or punished.
"Please give specifics, not just empty adjectives," she asked, saying there is sufficient time for discussions on the controversial legislation.
This was Tsai's first response to opposition to the anti-infiltration bill by the KMT-led pan-blue camp, which includes the PFP, since it passed its second reading at the Legislature on Nov. 29 thanks to the DPP's absolute majority of 68 seats in the 113-seat Legislative Yuan.
The legislative Procedure Committee has put the draft bill on the agenda of the plenary session slated for Dec. 31, when the DPP caucus has pledged to push through the bill's third and final reading, despite criticism that the act opens the door to unsubstantiated accusations.
Wednesday's televised presentation of political platforms by presidential candidates was organized by the Central Elections Commission, with each candidate speaking for 10 minutes at a time, during three rotations.
According to the DPP, the Anti-Infiltration Act is designed to complement existing laws preventing foreign hostile forces from intervening in Taiwan's democratic political system and elections.
The act prohibits political donations; lobbying; and attempts to interfere with local elections at the instruction or with the financial support of anyone affiliated with a hostile force.
The draft bill defines a hostile force as a country or group at war or in a military standoff with Taiwan that seeks to jeopardize Taiwan's sovereignty by non-peaceful means, referring to China.
Violators face a maximum five-year jail sentence or NT$5 million (US$162,522) fine.
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) has criticized the bill as representing a return to martial law because any member of the public could be subjected to penalties if he or she is unknowingly contracted to conduct legal business in Taiwan by a so-called "infiltration source."
"Any individual or group could possibly be charged for colliding with a 'foreign hostile force' under the law," Ma said, blasting the draft anti-infiltration act as a "malicious law" that violates people's freedom and harms the democratic rule of law.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel