Thu, Oct 02, 2003 - Page 3 News List

DPP sets up Constitution group

LOOKING AHEAD The party hopes the task force will help pave the way for a new Constitution in 2006, following a speech made by President Chen

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu elaborates on President Chen Shui-bian's proposal for a new Constitution while holding Chen's 2000 inaugural speech document at a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Secretary General of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday said that the party would establish a task force to conduct a series of constitutional changes in response to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) call for a new Constitution.

Chang said that the DPP would push for the adoption of a presidential system, a two-level government administration and oppose measures allowing the vice president to serve concurrently as the premier.

"The Presidential Office, the Cabinet and party headquarters have decided to set up a constitutional re-engineering task force before the next presidential election in a bid to present a new vision and blueprint for a new Constitution," Chang said yesterday at DPP headquarters. "This is a serious responsibility that no presidential candidate should dodge."

The task force would be led by Chang and Presidential Office Secretary General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and invite experts to offer advice on constitutional reforms and other issues including: halving the number of legislative seats; adopting a two-vote system in a single electoral district; choosing between a presidential system and a Cabinet system; whether the president should be elected by a relative or absolute majority; whether the five-branch government system should be retained or replaced by a three-branch system; whether there should be a two-level or three-level government administration; whether the age of citizen rights should be lowered to 18 from the current 20; choosing between the draft system and a volunteer military; the right of confirmation of the premier; the realization of new concepts for human rights and concern for disadvantaged groups.

Chang said these issues would be addressed in Chen's presidential campaign. He also called on the pan-blue camp's presidential candidate, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), and his running mate, People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), to clarify their positions on the three main issues: choosing between a presidential or Cabinet system, the adoption of a two-level or three level government and whether the vice president can serve concurrently as the premier.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday said Chen's proposal for a new Constitution reflects the DPP's long-term goal to pursue a new Constitution for Taiwan.

Lu said that since 1990, the DPP has proposed a Constitution draft based on the framework of England's Magna Carta. Since then, a number of different ideas for a new Constitution have been brought up, Lu said.

"It is a continuation of the DPP's endeavor for a new Taiwanese Constitution. People who were shocked at the president's call for a new Constitution were so because of insufficient understanding of the DPP's history," Lu said yesterday.

Lu also spoke on behalf of the president to reiterate that the new Constitution idea does not contradict the "five nos" promise Chen made in his 2000 presidential inauguration.

However, Lu said that the precondition for Chen's obeying of his "five nos" is that China should renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

"As China's military threat against Taiwan constantly increases, we don't have to overemphasize the `five nos' policy and use it to constrain President Chen," Lu said.

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