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Tue, Sep 07, 1999 - Page 3 News List

DPP pushes for national conference on Constitution

REFORM A controversial term extension has led the DPP leadership to reiterate its call for a multi-party constitutional review

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP leaders called on President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday to convene a national constitutional reform conference immediately to resolve what is quickly growing into a political boxing match over last week's term extension by the National Assembly.

Such a conference should include all political groups, as well as scholars, to resolve the problem not only of the term extension issue, but the entire Constitution, the DPP said.

"In the past few months, people have not bothered to monitor the assembly. Now it has caught our atte

ntion, so it is time to call such a conference," said DPP secretary-general Yu Shi-kun.

"It's time we reform the entire constitutional structure now, and all political parties should shoulder the responsibility for this mission," he said.

"The KMT controls over half the seats in the assembly, and Lee should not be duped by party delegates into destroying Tai-wan's Constitution," Yu said.

DPP Assembly leaders, meanwhile, said yesterday that the term extension amendment passed Saturday, together with the passage of a proportional representative system for the Assembly, has successfully contributed to carrying out the historical mission of parliamentary reform.

"To freeze the election of delegates will save plenty of social resources. We estimated that the elections cost around NT$25 billion each time, so by decreasing the number of assembly delegates we will also save government funds," said DPP assembly caucus leader Law I-teh (劉一德).

Law stressed that people should value the hard-earned achievenments of parliamentary reform instead of focusing solely on the extended Assembly term.

"The DPP has been working on abolishing the Assembly in the last decade. Now we finally enter into the first stage. Even the President knew of our purpose and did not oppose it," Law said.

Law revealed that two major party caucus leaders negotiated in private to cooperate with passing this amendment but the KMT dropped out. Therefore they visited Shi Wen-lung (許文龍), an industrialist and an advisor to the president, on Aug. 19, to request him to relay their message to President Lee.

"Shi promised to fax our proposal draft to the Presidential Office. And Shi told us that President Lee expressed neither support nor opposition to it. We understand that the President respects the Assembly's responsibilities and does not want to intervene in the constitutional amendment procedures," Law said.

The Presidential Office, in a press release yesterday evening, said it had not received a fax from Shi but the President did not made any comment about it.

DPP secretary-general Yu verified further yesterday that the DPP has many channels to communicate with the ruling party, even with the President.

"Some people who are not in the political circle are willing to help the DPP to relay our message to national leaders. But we cannot publicize their names to block those channels," Yu said.

Meanwhile, one of the party's faction leaders Chang Chun-hung (張俊宏) said yesterday that Lee would lead the assembly to write a new Constitution, which could be named "The Fundamental Law of the Republic of China" or "of the Second Republic" after the presidential election next March, and before his term ended on May 20th.

"Only Lee Teng-hui has the power and determination to accomplish the constitutional reform disinterestedly. I think he will carry out the reform mission before ending his term next May," Chang said.

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