Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 3 News List

New constitution needed to cement democracy, reflect reality, Chen says

REFORM AGENDA Chen Shui-bian told a symposium on the reform of the civil service that the people must have the final say on the document that will guide the nation


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that he will offer a set of plans to revamp the Constitution since it will meet the needs of Taiwan's society and deepen democratization.

"As the president of this country, I feel obligated to develop a comprehensive plan to overhaul the Constitution. The plan must be presented to the people who will show their views on the issue and pave the way for the birth of a new constitution," he said.

Chen made the remark at a two-day symposium on government reform and the civil service.

A referendum would decide whether the country should implement a new constitution after thorough public debate, Chen said.

The president said establishing a new constitutional was part of four reform goals.

The goals are: reorganizing the structure of government, upgrading the civil-service system, improving administrative efficiency and deepening Taiwan's democratization through a new constitution, he said.

The existing Constitution was adopted during an era with different political and social realities. It was designed for governing 450 million people in China and could hardly be transplanted to any other country with a different history and political reality, Chen said.

Past constitutional changes were piecemeal and were restricted by the circumstances of the time, meaning they cannot meet the practical needs of Taiwan, he said.

When it comes to an extensive overhaul, Chen said, the nation should look at the limits of government powers, the role of central and local governments, lowering the age of people for practising citizenship and a review based on basic human rights and fundamental national issues.

Han Chung-mo Law Foundation chairman Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧) endorsed Chen's view.

"The constitutional amendment in 2000 made it difficult for the current legislature to initiate and realize constitutional changes," Lee said.

He said that, on their own, neither the pan-blue camp nor the pan-green camp has enough members to amend the constitution. Constitutional amendments must be submitted by one-fourth of lawmakers and obtain approval of three-quarters of lawmakers.

The two-day International Conference on Government Reform and Civil Service System was co-hosted by the Examination Yuan and the law foundation.

Two international experts were invited to deliver keynote speeches at the conference.

Deborah Hensler, a professor of law from Stanford University spoke yesterday on the examination and selection system for legal professionals.

She analyzed strengths and weaknesses of self-regulation, which shapes the legal profession in the US. The profession maintains its independence from government and politics, while self-regulation also encourages professional and ethical behavior, Hensler said.

Udo Bartsch, president of the Federal Academy of Public Administration of Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior, is slated to speak on the senior civil servant training system today. He will focus on the issues, strategies and experiences in Germany with advanced training in the process of modernizing public administration.

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