Fri, May 10, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers team up on reform drive

ALLIANCE Overhauling the legislature has been much debated. Three legislators from the DPP, KMT and PFP yesterday decided it's time to put words into action

CNA , TAIPEI

Lawmakers from the three major parties formed an alliance yesterday to push for an early start of the long-talked-about reform of the Legislative Yuan.

The DPP's Chen Chin-teh (陳金德), Tsai Cheng-yuan (蔡正元) of the KMT and Lyu Siue-jhang (呂學樟) of the PFP told a news conference that they would join forces to promote inter-party consultations on legislative reforms.

The lawmakers said many candidates had listed "promoting downsizing of the legislature and putting an end to legislative chaos" as their major campaign promises during last December's elections.

Relations between the ruling and opposition camps have remained tense since the inauguration of the new legislature in February and discussions on reforms have been futile so far.

The lawmakers said they are worried that legislative reforms will still be a pipe dream when their terms end in three years.

Since cutting the number of seats is the least contentious reform proposal, Chen said the new alliance would first focus on forging an inter-party consensus on the issue.

The Constitution stipulates that the legislature should have 225 members. Any change to the number of seats would require constitutional amendments which need the support of all major political parties.

"Given the complex and onerous process of amending the Constitution, ruling and opposition parties should sit down to patiently discuss how to design a more reasonable size, framework or structure for our new legislature," Chen said.

As to how the new legislators would be elected and how constituencies would be readjusted, Chen said those details can be prescribed in a law instead of being put into the Constitution.

Tsai echoed Chen's view, saying that most countries in the world only stipulate the number of parliamentary seats in their constitutions and set out parliamentary electoral systems in separate laws.

Noting that the main purpose of the reforms is not just to scale down the legislature, Tsai said all major parties should rationally and extensively discuss adjusting the number of seats to a reasonable level in order to ensure smooth and efficient operations in the lawmaking body.

The Government Reform Committee unveiled a legislative reform blueprint on Sunday. According to the plan, the number of seats should be cut to from 225 to 150. It also recommends a "single-member district, two vote" system for legislative elections and an extension of the terms of legislators from three to four years.

The plan has drawn criticism from the opposition parties. Even many DPP legislators have said that they disagree with certain aspects of the plan. The DPP legislative caucus and the party headquarters are still integrating their own versions of the reform plan.

The KMT and the PFP legislative caucuses are also drafting their own reform proposals.

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