Constitutional reforms rejected amid objections

DIALOGUE::DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying said it is the duty of lawmakers to propose reform legislation, adding that Su Chiao-hui’s bill was conducive to discussions

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Oct 07, 2017 - Page 1

A motion initiated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧) to amend the Constitution was rejected by Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) due to objections from the People First Party (PFP) caucus.

The motion, addressed at a legislative plenary session yesterday, includes proposals to change the nation’s semi-presidential system into a presidential system and to lower the legal voting age from 20 to 18.

It also seeks to change wording in the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China used to identify Taiwan and China from “the free area and the mainland area” (自由地區與大陸地區) to “our nation and the People’s Republic of China.”

The motion was cosigned by 41 of 66 DPP lawmakers.

The PFP caucus filed an objection to the motion, with the speaker returning it to the legislature’s Procedural Committee for further deliberation.

PFP caucus convener Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said Su Chiao-hui had put forward a “false issue,” as the DPP has not arrived at a consensus on changing the nation’s system of government.

“The DPP should form a consensus before seeking the support of others,” Lee said, adding that constitutional reform is a major challenge and would only cause the ruling party trouble if bills are recklessly tendered.

Lee called on the DPP to begin discussions with opposition parties to achieve a “sustainable” constitution.

Separately yesterday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said it hopes to be “prudent, yet open-minded” toward the proposed constitutional reforms.

KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) reiterated the caucus’ firm opposition to constitutional reform that would involve Taiwan declaring de jure independence, including attempts at changing the nation’s territory, which, according to the Constitution promulgated in 1947, includes China.

The aim of constitutional reforms should be to build a government whose power is proportionate to its accountability, KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said.

Quoting Premier William Lai (賴清德), who earlier this week said the DPP administration would not declare independence, Chiang urged the premier to make his position on the reforms clear, given that the majority of DPP lawmakers signed Su Chiao-hui’s bill.

DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said it is the duty of lawmakers to propose bills on constitutional reform, adding that Su Chiao-hui’s proposal was conducive to discussions.

The DPP caucus will respect the opinions of opposition parties and seek the broadest possible consensus on constitutional reforms, Tsai said.

Su Chiao-hui said that she had “shelved the motion” for a year, so when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sept. 24 unveiled plans to amend the Constitution, she thought it was the right time to file the motion.

She vowed to continue to fine-tune the motion and refile it, saying that she would stand up for what she believes is right.

She called on the PFP and KMT caucuses to propose their own versions of constitutional amendments, as they apparently believe that it is an important issue.