Legislature gets ready for Chen report - Taipei Times
Tue, Sep 28, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Legislature gets ready for Chen report

MAINTAIN STABILITY President Chen Shui-bian says his special report will cover three big issues -- the arms procurement budget, the nation's UN bid and peace

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Presidential Office First Bureau chief Leonard Chao, left, delivers an official message to the Legislative Yuan yesterday afternoon, requesting it to arrange for President Chen Shui-bian's state-of-the-nation report to be presented at the legislature as soon as possible.


The Presidential Office yesterday officially requested the Legislative Yuan to allow President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to deliver a special report on a proposed arms deal with the US and other important issues as soon as possible.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) promised to convene cross-party negotiations by Thurs-day to discuss what would be the first-ever "state-of-the-nation" report.

"In order to strengthen national security, maintain democracy and freedom, facilitate national progress and development and seek support from both ruling and opposition parties on major national policies, [the president] expects to deliver the special report on three important issues -- the arms procurement budget, the nation's bid to enter the UN and peaceful cross-strait development," the message said.

It was delivered to the Legislative Yuan by Presidential Office First Bureau Chief Leonard Chao (趙麟) yesterday afternoon.

The message said the request was in accordance with the Fourth Additional Article in the Constitution, which says that the Legislative Yuan can invite the president to make a "state-of-the-nation" address every year.

"We hereby request that the Legislative Yuan arrange for the state-of-the-nation address to be delivered as soon as possible," the message said.

Chen announced his decision to directly communicate with opposition legislators on the arms deal during an address at the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) extraordinary national congress on Sunday.

Opposition parties responded yesterday by saying that they wanted a question-and-answer session between legislators and the president to immediately follow the report, while the DPP insisted that this would spoil the spirit of the Constitution and cause a constitutional crisis.

"Chen says that he is willing to further interact with legislators after delivering the special report," Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said. "The president will respect the Legislative Yuan's decision on how the state-of-the-nation address will proceed because the president expects that the processes will not be `one-way' communication."

The Fourth Additional Article does not state that legislators can demand a question-and-answer session with the president.

Cho's remarks hinted that Chen may stay at the Legislative Yuan to listen to the legislators' suggestions and offer a summary response.

Meanwhile, Wang said that because legislative agendas and budget allocations had already been set, it would be difficult to allow the president to deliver a report before December's legislative elections. But the final decision could be arrived at after negotiations, he said.

Wang indicated that, according to the spirit of the Additional Articles, the right to determine whether the president will report to the Legislative Yuan lies solely with the legislature.

Now that Chen had taken the initiative, and out of respect for the president, Wang said he would convene cross-party negotiations after receiving the request.

On the viability of a question-and-answer session following the president's report, Wang said that if Chen were to come to the Legislative Yuan, he should interact with its members and provide explanations if legislative members have questions.

"Otherwise, how would it differ from making an announcement on television?" Wang said.

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