Taiwanese Lawmakers Push for Pro-Independence Constitution Changes
- A sizable number of ruling Taiwanese lawmakers are pushing for constitutional changes that would reflect the “reality” of Taiwan’s geo-political situation by pushing for its independence.
- Additional changes include adjusting the national flag and emblem, which are tied to the nationalist Kuomintang Party that fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War and setting up today’s status quo.
- The constitutional changes, which require a three-fourths majority in the legislature, are unlikely to happen without more support inside and outside of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
- The changes also need at least 50% approval among all eligible voters.
Taiwan Lawmakers Seek Constitutional Changes
Lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have suggested pushing forward constitutional changes that would remove references to unification with mainland China.
The move would be a drastic departure from the status quo since currently, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China (Mainland) both claim to be the sole legitimate government for all Chinese territory.The tense situation has been brewing since 1949, when the Nationalists, under the Kuomintang Party, fled the mainland to Taiwan after losing a civil war.
Supporters of the change claim they help Taiwan become a “normalized country.”
“Our constitution actually reflects a Greater China mentality and our so-called territory does not reflect our reality – that our jurisdiction only extends to Taiwan, Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu, but not China and even Mongolia,” added Chen Ting-Fei, a DPP lawmaker.
The changes come from a pro-Independence movement growing in Taiwan, with many members of the DPP supporting aspects of it; however, it’s not universal. President Tsai Ing-Wen has yet to say whether she supports Taiwanese independence, although she has hinted at it in the past.
Additionally, 51 Pro-independence lawmakers from the DPP and other minority parties pushed for other changes in the country, including changing the flag and emblem, which are from the opposition Kuomintang party and stem from its time as the sole-party in Taiwan.
Voting Likely an Issue
Despite some support within the DPP and other pro-independence parties, the proposals likely won’t get far. They need three-fourths of lawmakers in the legislature to agree. The DPP currently controls just over half, and not all of the party is on-board with the changes. Even if a three-fourths majority was found, the change must be approved by half of all eligible voters.
Then there’s the looming threat of China. The country has long held the stance that Taiwanese independence is unacceptable and would mean war. Par the course when a new U.S. President is elected and pledges its support to a free Taiwan, China has increased military flyovers and other provocative acts in the last two days, according to Taiwanese authorities.
Additionally, it reiterated its independent-Taiwan-means-war stance earlier this week to President Joe Biden, although Biden is reported to have shrugged it off.
See What Others Are Saying: (South China Morning Post) (BBC) (Reuters)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.