An argument broke out yesterday between Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君), who accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of making it difficult for independent presidential candidates to pass the petition stage — a prerequisite for them to qualify for the election.
During an interpellation with Su and Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) on the legislative floor, Ma asked if it is true that a signature must meet 10 requirements to qualify, citing an allegation nade yesterday by former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who last month registered as an independent candidate.
Under the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法), an independent candidate must obtain at least 280,000 signatures to qualify for the next presidential election.
Ma asked Lee whether it was true that if people signed their signatures and affixed their seals on the same petition, that the petition would be annulled.
Lee said that Lu made the same allegations last month and that they stemmed from a misunderstanding.
Pressing Lee for a yes-or-no answer, Ma cut Lee off and accused him of not paying attention.
Su chimed in, saying that Ma had not paid attention to Lee.
Upon hearing this, Ma bellowed: “Premier, my question concerns the right of all citizens.”
By making the submission of signatures difficult, the DPP is bullying senior voters and a senior DPP member, Ma said.
If the DPP can tamper with petition rules now, it could tamper with ballots and voters’ rights later, she said, prompting a response from Su, who said that she was “drawing the wrong conclusion and talking nonsense.”
“Do not talk nonsense during a question-and-answer session,” Su told Ma, but the KMT legislator accused the premier of only giving importance to issues raised by DPP lawmakers.
Su was addressing the allegation — saying that he had earlier in the day told KMT Legislator Chiang Nai-hsin (蔣乃辛) that Chiang’s question deserved attention — when Ma, who had told Su to stop talking, suddenly slammed her hand on the podium.
Lee said that a seal and a signature are not mutually exclusive, adding that under normal circumstances, a petition would still be valid if it bore just one.
Before Ma started on another issue, Su said that the rules were not designed by the DPP, as they had been in place, unchanged, since 1995.
“They were meant to prevent petitions from passing,” Ma said. “The DPP should have kept up with the times and amended those rules.”