Shall the National Assembly, during any extraordinary session not convened for the purpose of amending the Constitution, nevertheless exercise the power to amend the Constitution?
Given that the Constitution is the fundamental basis and supreme law of the country, any amendment thereof greatly affects the stability of constitutional order and the well-being of all the people. Consequently, the people should be provided with an opportunity to know the purpose of any amendment to the Constitution and have the opportunity to express their opinions prior to such amendment to the Constitution. Extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly are convened pursuant to different requirements and procedures; hence, the National Assembly, during any extraordinary session not convened for the purpose of amending the Constitution, may nevertheless not exercise the power to amend the Constitution. Interpretation No. 29 of this Yuan should thus be further supplemented.
Interpretation No. 29 of this Yuan clearly states that “In the event one of the circumstances enumerated under Article 30 of the Constitution occurs and the National Assembly convokes an extraordinary session, the authority discharged is nevertheless part of the power and duty of the National Assembly and the National Assembly convoked in accordance with Article 29 of the Constitution may naturally exercise such authority.” This interpretation is merely an elucidation of how the National Assembly may exercise its power during an annual assembly in accordance with Article 29 of the Constitution, but it does not mean that all the powers of the National Assembly may be exercised during any of the extraordinary sessions regardless of what the grounds and procedures of convocation are.
The Constitution is the fundamental basis and supreme law of the country and as such, any material and substantial matters of the nation, including but not limited to, the state system, the governmental forms, matters involving the rights and obligations of the people, and the division of powers between the central and local governments, shall be regulated by the Constitution. Consequently, given that any amendment to the Constitution would greatly affect the stability of constitutional order and the well-being of all the people, the people should, therefore, be provided with an opportunity to know the purpose of any amendment to the Constitution and have the opportunity to express their opinions prior to such amendment to the Constitution. Furthermore, members of the National Assembly should take the will of the public into consideration in the exercise of their power so as to live up to the reasonable expectation and trust of all the people. Subparagraph 2 of Article 174 of the Constitution stipulates that the constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislative Yuan and submitted to the National Assembly for a referendum shall be published half a year before the convention of the National Assembly. Paragraph 4 of the Temporary Provisions Effective during the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion, promulgated by the National Assembly on May 25, 1950, required that no later than December 25, 1950, the First National Assembly should be convened in the form of an extraordinary session by the president to discuss each and every proposed amendment to the Constitution. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the said Temporary Provisions were amended on March 11, 1960, to provide that the President should choose a date to convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly to discuss each and every proposed amendment to the Constitution. Article 6 of the Amendments to the Constitution provides that within three months after the members of the Second National Assembly are elected, the President shall convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly to amend the Constitution. Additionally, Article 12, Paragraph 2, of the said Amendments provides that the procedures for electing the president and vice president should be regulated by the amendments to be approved by the National Assembly during an extraordinary session to be convened by the president before May 20, 1995. The abovementioned Amendments are in line with the spirit of the constitutional intent. Pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 174 of the Constitution, it is not required that an amendment to the Constitution be published half a year before the Assembly convenes, but convening an extraordinary session pursuant to different circumstances and procedures is, however, different from convening a regular session under Article 29 of the Constitution. Extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly not convened for the purpose of amending the Constitution may not forthwith be used to amend the Constitution, thereby disregarding the restriction imposed on the procedures of convocation of Assembly purposefully regulated by the Constitution. Therefore, extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly convened by the president and in compliance with Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Articles 11 and 15 of the Amendments to the Constitution may not be used to exercise the power to amend the Constitution. This Yuan hereby provides supplemental interpretation for J.Y. Interpretation No. 29. 'Translated by Wei-Feng Huang of THY Taiwan International Law Offices