Fri, Dec 12, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Constitutional reforms to be pushed

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Ting Shou-chung, left, Johnny Chiang, center, and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang yesterday call for the establishment of a constitutional amendment committee in the Legislative Yuan at a news conference in Taipei.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators were joined by collegues from across party lines yesterday in proposing changes to the Constitution as a way of resolving the nation’s constitutional-political impasse, presidential unaccountability and the lack of a communication mechanism between the ruling and opposition parties.

Among the possible amendments are altering the government structure from a quasi-presidential system to a parliamentary one, lowering the voting age to 18, and revising the legislative electoral system so small parties could have a better chance of gaining seats.

KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who called a news conference that was attended by lawmakers of four political parties, said that the string of political upheavals in recent years showed the need to amend the Constitution.

The Legislative Yuan’s first step should be to establish a committee to oversee the proposed amendments and to put any proposals to a referendum, Chiang said.

The motion to set up the committee was proposed by eight legislators from the KMT, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party (PFP). Another 28 lawmakers have signed the motion.

According to the Additional Articles of the ROC Constitution, the Constitution can be amended through a four-step process.

First, one-quarter of the Legislative Yuan must propose an amendment. Three-quarters of the legislators must attend a meeting to deliberate upon the amendment and then three-quarters of the attendees must approve the amendment. Finally, the amendment must be put to a referendum, which requires half of the entire electorate to vote in favor for the amendment to pass.

“There are seven Constitution-related proposals already awaiting deliberation in the legislature. They could be referred to a constitutional amendment committee by the legislative floor, and committee meetings and public hearings would then be held to develop a consensus,” Chiang said.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that at present, the president holds substantial power, but is not held accountable, while the reverse is true for the premier.

“Revisions need to be made to correspond power to responsibility, and I am rooting for a Cabinet system,” Tsai said.

“Other possible amendments include making changes to the existing five-branch political framework, transforming it into three branches of government and revising the legislative voting system to make each ballot of equal value,” he added.

PFP Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) and KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said that there is a consensus on amending the Constitution without altering the First Article, which involves the Republic of China’s name and territories.

“Issues about unification and independence would not be discussed” during the proposed constitutional changes, Lin said.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said all the parties should not add “selfish motives and partisan calculations to the effort.”

If the public has doubts about a Cabinet system proposed by the KMT — which could be seen as an effort to prevent the DPP’s possible takeover of the presidency in 2016 — “we could propose the changes be implemented in 2020 or even 2024,” Wu said.

Most of the legislators at the news conference said they support a parliamentary form of government as opposed to the current quasi-presidential system, and lowering the voting age from 20 to 18.

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