President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that "Taiwan Province" should be abolished, adding that the government will strive to implement reforms, including halving the number of ministries, legislative seats, terms of military service and land capital gains tax.
While stumping for DPP legislative candidates last night in Xindian, Chen pointed out that the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government did not dare to abolish the provincial institution. After the KMT streamlined the provincial administration, Chen said, the administrative unit has had no direction. Chen said Taiwan only needs an administration of two levels, referring to the Executive Yuan and the grassroots city and county governments.
Currently, Taiwan Province is a level of government existing between the Cabinet and city and county governments. Its original role was to administer the city and county governments. Administratively it still exists, but with very limited functions.
Citing corporate mergers, Chen said that, "36 ministries under the Executive Yuan are burdensome. Japan only has 13 ministries."
"In European countries with populations of over 50 million, such as the UK and France, the administration only has 17 ministries. Even in China, a country of 1.3 billion population, the government is comprised of only 25 ministries," Chen said.
"The numerous ministries were actually products of the KMT government's mentality to `recover' the 35 provinces [under the `Republic of China' administration before 1949]," Chen said.
Taiwan is stipulated by the government as being one of the 35 provinces.
Only by halving the ministries can administrative efficiency be enhanced, Chen said.
Also, Chen said the government will push ahead with reforms to halve the legislative seats, terms of military service, and land value increase tax.
Earlier yesterday, Chen and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) again stressed the importance of designing a new constitution for Taiwan, tailored to its specific needs.
Both Chen and Lee attended the Symposium on a New Constitution for Taiwan, held by the civic group Taiwan Advocates, to deliver the opening speeches.
Chen again urged the public to allow the pan-green camp to win a majority of legislative seats in elections two weeks away so he could end the "four kinds of chaos."
These he defined as: The unwillingness of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to admit their defeat in the presidential election in March and their continuing refusal to accept the legitimacy of Chen's government; the legislature's unreasonable obstructionism in blocking important legislation out of political animosity; the long-standing confusion between party and state created by the KMT's decades of one-party rule; and the use of the 1947 Chinese Constitution in modern Taiwan.
Chen, however, sidestepped the question of whether he intended to write a new constitution or simply reform the existing one.
"People have different opinions regarding writing and rewriting and I respect both sides, but the important thing is to be engaged in the actual constitutional reform, instead of these arguments," Chen said.
"Taiwan needs a modern constitution that suits its needs," he said.
Chen also said that a committee on constitutional reform would start to operate after the legislative election. He urged the public to allow the pan-green camp to win a majority, so that "Constitutional reform can make major progress."