Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Pan-greens plan to build support for reform with office

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In the absence of a cross-party "constitutional reform committee" because of the lack of interest from opposition parties, the Presidential Office has decided to set up a "constitutional reform office" to promote its plan for a second-phase of constitutional reforms.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun is slated to give a briefing to the public today about the Presidential Office's intention to establish this new unit, whose main function will be to inspire a public debate on constitutional amendment proposals and enhance public awareness of the topic, sources said.

Following the passage of a constitutional amendment package by the National Assembly earlier last month, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed to speed up the next round of constitutional reforms, saying that he hoped that by the time his term ends in 2008, a constitution suitable for the country will be in place along with a new president and new administration.

It was not immediately clear why the pan-greens believed they could accomplish this, as the opposition parties control the legislature and have thus far been steadfastly opposed to the new round of constitutional reforms proposed by Chen.

Wishing to forge a consensus on a new phase of constitutional reforms, the Presidential Office has previously spoken of forming a "constitutional reform committee" which would have members from each political party.

The proposal, however, has not been well received by the opposition parties. Yu had earlier said the Presidential Office does not have a timetable for the formation of such a committee and it will have to wait until the opposition parties are willing to participate.

If the new office could somehow foster a consensus on constitutional reforms, the Presidential Office would then push for the formation of a cross-party "constitutional reform committee."

Meanwhile, Chen yesterday said an assessment of the country's current government system would be necessary to achieve constitutional reform.

Chen made the remarks while receiving a group of pro-Taiwan French Senators at the Presidential Office yesterday. The French delegation was headed by Senator Monique Papon.

The president told his guests that, although Taiwan's government system had been influenced by France's co-habitation system, "[such a system] however has not been practiced [in Taiwan], as it otherwise should have been practiced, and, as a result, this has produced a perplexing situation."

"In view of the ongoing constitutional re-engineering effort the government is now undertaking, it is therefore worth further study and assessment as to what government system Taiwan should adopt: whether it be a `semi-presidential' system [a version similar to France's co-habitation system], a presidential system of government like that practiced in the US or a parliamentary system like that practiced in Japan," Chen said.

Chen then expressed his regret that French President Jacques Chirac has tilted notably in favor of China recently with such acts as publicly criticizing Taiwan last year over referendums and suggesting that the EU lift its arms sale embargo on China.

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