Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Legislators decide not to reduce number of seats

NOT SO FAST Legislative caucuses had agreed that yesterday would be the day to pass a bill that would halve the number of seats in the Legislative Yuan


The legislative reform bill failed to pass in the Legislative Yuan yesterday and was sent back for cross-party negotiations after a motion by the Alliance of Independent Lawmakers.

The failure to pass the bill, which would slash the number of seats in the legislature from 225 to 113, follows a promise made by all caucuses to pass the bill before today's election.

The caucuses, including the alliance, agreed on March 12 to pass the bill yesterday. The alliance later objected to the agreement and said it would move to return the bill to cross-party negotiations for more comprehensive discussions.

In addition, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) expressed reservations on Thursday about passing the bill before the election, though he said he would try to communicate with the alliance in an effort to convince it to abandon its plan to send the bill back for more negotiations.

The alliance, however, decided to follow through on introducing the motion yesterday.

"Because some have concluded that rushing to pass the bill before the election may amount to political `speeding,' and because we think that the bill's provisions for single-member districts and for 30 percent of the seats to be reserved for women cannot coexist without passing relevant laws to solve those conflicts -- and because constitutional amendments regarding National Assembly representatives are still not settled -- we demand that the article to halve the number of legislative seats be further amended via cross-party negotiations," the alliance said in its motion.

Wang then announced that the bill would be the subject of further negotiations to be co-convened by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucuses.

Government reform

* Legislative reform bill would reduce number of seat in the legislatures from 225 to 113.

* A total of 17 bills aimed at reforming the legislature are currently awaiting legislative review.

* The bill would reduce the total number of seats, but would also increase the length of a legislator's term from three years to four years.

Source: taipei times

The bill, which is an amendment to Article 4 of the Additional Articles to the Constitution, would reduce the number of seats but lengthen the legislative term from three years to four.

The bill stipulates that cities and counties would elect 73 legislators in total, with at least one legislator in each city and county. The bill mandates that there be one legislator per district.

While it was the Alliance of Independent Lawmakers that prevented the bill from being passed yesterday, the pan-blue and the pan-green camps blamed one another for the failure, saying that their rivals had not been sincere in their earlier support of the bill.

After yesterday's session, Wang discussed the process that led to the bill's being sent back for further negotiations.

"Before the session started, some party whips were asking whether the Alliance of Independent Lawmakers would introduce their motion. We should not be so hypocritical, and we should tell the truth like [DPP Legislator] Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄)," Wang said.

"The alliance motioned to return the bill for cross-party negotiations according to the legislature's internal regulations, so we have to deal with it accordingly," Wang said.

Wang noted that 17 legislative reform bills are waiting to be reviewed, included those on halving the legislative seats and abolishing the National Assembly.

"The issues are complicated, and I will convene negotiations soon to form a consensus on the issue, and carefully consider issues involved with forming a long-lasting constitutional system," Wang said.

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