Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Academics share ideas for Constitution draft

CNA , TAIPEI

Overhauling the legislature and modifying the elections system should be included in a revision of the Constitution, a group of aca-demics said yesterday.

Representatives from the Congress Revolution Alliance made the pitch during a meeting with Presidential Office Secretary- General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

Su is soliciting opinions from various social quarters about , President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) constitutional re-engineering plan outlined in his May 20 inauguration address.

Hung Yu-hung (洪裕宏) said constitutional re-engineering should be done "within the system," meaning that it should be initiated by the Legislative Yuan in accordance with the existing Constitution. Hung is chairman of the Taipei Society, which was founded by a group of liberal academics who oppose nuclear power plants and undemocratic practices.

He said plans for constitutional change should not be drawn up "within the Presidential Office"; rather, it should be done from the bottom up with all of the nation's people involved in the process.

The new draft constitution should then be voted on by national referendum.

Ku Chung-hua (顧忠華), convener of the Congress Revolution Alliance, a collection of social and academic groups, said legislative reforms must be included in constitutional re-engineering and that the "one seat, two votes" electoral system should be implemented before anything else. He also advocated lowering the voting age to 18 from the current 20.

Yang Wan-ying (楊婉瑩), a National Chengchi University assistant professor, said the existing legislature's core problem is not the number of seats in the body. Instead, she said, it boils down to the kind of electoral system that is in place.

Yang said halving the number of legislators will not solve the problem, and suggested that the number of elected legislators and legislators at large should be set at 84 each, a development that should serve various sectors of society.

Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), an assistant researcher with Academia Sinica, said the period prior to the year-end legislative elections is the most crucial time to begin legislative reforms.

Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋), secretary-general of Taiwan's Disabled Alliance, expressed opposition to the "one seat, two votes" electoral system, saying that it will further deprive the underprivileged groups of political power.

Wang suggested that candidates representing the underprivileged be granted rights to become legislators at large.

Responding to the various ideas, Su said the constitutional re-engineering plan is aimed at formulating a "fit, timely and viable" constitution.

After the December legislative elections, Su said, the project's preparatory committee will unveil a new draft constitution for screening by the Legislative Yuan.

A special ad-hoc National Assembly will then be elected to pass judgment on the proposed constitution, Su said.

Yesterday's meeting was the fifth in Su's campaign to solicit opinions about constitutional re-engineering.

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