Mon, Mar 31, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chen speaks to youth about reform

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday called for the public to support cutting the number of seats in the Legislative Yuan in half and a single-member district election system.

"Before the legislative election, many candidates and political parties endorsed the reform, promising to push an agenda to cut the seats to half if elected," Chen said. "But after they came to power, they raise their voices against the reform."

Chen invited members of the Presidential Office Youth Corps yesterday afternoon and seven other college student representatives for a tea gathering, during which he shared his political beliefs with the young leaders.

One young leader at the party criticized some lawmakers' irrational interrogations during the latest parliament session, asking the president if he has any plan to prevent abuse of Cabinet officials from personalities in the Legislative Yuan.

KMT Legislator Yu Yueh-hsia (游月霞) called Mainland Affairs Council Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) an "old spinster" during her interpellation of Premier Yu Shyi-kun on Friday. Such a rude behavior had raised numerous protests from women's rights groups during past two days.

The president said that lawmakers should be responsible for their behavior and any insults or inappropriate language should be avoided.

"The key is the system," he said, "If we have fewer lawmakers, those who demonstrate an irrational political style to please minority voters will hurt their chances for reelection."

"If we do not have enough support, parliamentary reform will not succeed. I hope the people can gather together to force the legislators to agree [to the changes], so we may be able to change the entire system," Chen said.

"We hope to advance a campaign to cut the seats of the legislature to half and to adopt a single-member district and two votes electoral system," he said.

In response to fierce criticism from pan-blue leaders Lien Chan (連戰) and James Soong (宋楚瑜) against the DPP government, Chen said a head of state must not be disturbed by his opponents' criticism. He must "have a thick skin," Chen said. "It's very important. We must not be affected no matter how big the pressure is or how much others abuse us."

Chen said US presidents like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush go on vacations during wartime because they are ordinary human beings who need to "reduce pressure."

"We face a lot of pressure on a lot of matters. But US presidents can go on vacations but Taiwanese [presidents] can't. Because of the different situations of the two countries, the president [of Taiwan]] cannot reduce pressure. Everyone thinks the president is omnipotent and won't get sick.

"But I think the president is also a human being. When criticizing the president, can everyone have a little empathy [and think] what they would do if they were a president under the enormous pressure of state affairs and facing abuse from others every day."

Chen stressed that his biggest wish now is for the "people to have a better life" and the government's policy goals of reform and economic recovery have not changed. However, matters outside of the government's control such as the international situation make people anxious. "We hope the war will end as soon as possible and true peace will come as soon as possible," Chen said.

Chen also criticized the opposition parties for blocking the implementation of government policies. The Cabinet wants to do things well but is facing much opposition and harassment, frustrating the government's promotion of its policies, he said.

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