Tue, Jan 05, 2016 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Ensuring a smooth power transition

If all goes well, a new president is to be elected when the electorate go to the polls on Jan. 16 to vote in the combined presidential and legislative elections.

As the presidential inauguration is not to take place until May 20, it means there will be a four-month gap between the presidential election and the day the new president and vice president take office.

Is this four-month period reasonable? Many political observers have their doubts.

Prior to the 2012 presidential election, the presidential poll was in March and the new president and vice president were sworn in on May 20.

However, following the Central Election Commission’s decision to combine the presidential and legislative elections, the transition period between the presidential election and inauguration has been extended.

The four-month window between the election and the inauguration did not prove to be much of an issue in the presidential election four years ago, because President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) ended up winning another term.

However, this time around Ma is certain not to be elected again.

Therefore, concerns have been raised over what could happen during the four-month post-election transition — not to mention other challenging issues, such as whether the military will remain neutral and whether the caretaker government will refrain from making major policy changes.

After all, until Ma steps down, he is still the president, and there is no way that Taiwanese can demand that he just sit on his hands during the transition period.

While some observers remain confident, saying that democracy has taken root in Taiwan and there is no need to worry, many Taiwanese remain concerned over whether power will be transferred peacefully.

Fortunately, the lawmakers to be elected on Jan. 16 are to be sworn in and begin a new legislative session on Feb. 1.

The lawmakers should make it their priority to pass the draft government transition act, ensuring that the caretaker government of the Ma administration cannot do anything that might harm the nation’s or the public’s interests in any way.

The government transition bill has been sitting idle in the Legislative Yuan for the past seven years — with no progress made.

The passage of the act is needed to stipulate a clear delineation of the powers of incumbent presidents during the transitional window — for instance, whether incumbent presidents should be able to sign treaties with other nations and how their administrations should make use of government budgets.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is how an incumbent administration provides information, resources and training to an incoming administration.

To ensure that its newly elected representatives in the Legislative Yuan truly reflect its concerns over the transition of power, the electorate should bear in mind that votes cast for legislative candidates are just as important as votes cast for presidential candidates.

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