Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Chen's annotation of bill defended by spokesman

SPELLING IT OUT The president had a large number of reservations about the law he signed, so he wrote them on the document accordingly, Su Cheng-chang said

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Cheng-chang (蘇貞昌) defended President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) approach to the March 19 Shooting Truth Investiga-tion Special Committee Statute (三一九槍擊事件真相調查特別委員會條例) as focusing attention on the issues when he signed the law two days ago.

Su said Chen "also had special messengers send letters to the presidents of all five yuans yesterday to remind them of the major Constitutional disputes over the statute, and [said] it would be wise to seek a Constitutional interpretation of the statute or an amendment to the statute so the it can conform to the Constitution." Su was defending Chen's extra notations when signing the statute.

The Legislative Yuan delivered the bill to the Presidential Office on Sept. 14, and Chen signed it on Sept. 24, just meeting the Constitution's 10-day deadline for approving legislation. After the deadline, approved bills pass into law without the president's signature.

Chen signed, then added comments to highlight his reservations about the statute: "The president and vice president were both shot during the election campaign at the same time, and to find out the truth we should conduct an investigation ... The government supports the investigation, but the investigation should not be conducted against the Constitution ... The statute has raised major Constitutional disputes, and it would be wise to seek a Constitutional interpretation of the statute or an amendment to the statute so the statute can operate according to Constitutional order."

Su said that although it was unusual for the president to annotate a bill during its signing, there was also no precedent for what he called the Constitutional monster created by the Legislative Yuan.

"Adding the notation was President Chen's idea. In developed countries such as the US, the president would often add notations when promulgating a statute. So President Chen's notations were not strange," Su said.

"Earlier the Judicial Yuan's president also sent the legislative speaker a letter to highlight the Constitutional disputes, so it is only appropriate for President Chen to show concerns according to the Constitution," Su said.

In the letters to the presidents of all five yuans, the contents were similar to the statute notations, and the letters were numerated as official documents would have been.

But Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that the statute as returned by the Presidential Office to the Legislative Yuan was without any notation.

"The [unannotated] letter the Presidential Office sent to the Legislative Yuan will be considered as an official document, as it was numerated and sealed. I will reply to the president and send the document to all caucuses for review," Wang said.

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