Tue, Sep 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Soong reiterates plan to join legislature for debate

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday reaffirmed that he would assume a legislator-at-large seat if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was willing to debate national policy in the legislature.

Speaking at a press conference, Soong called on Chen not to make a state-of-the-nation report to the legislature, but take part in a debate instead. If that were to happen, Soong said he would become a legislator-at-large and join the debate.

Soong's comments came one day after Chen said he was willing to present a report on national affairs to the Legislative Yuan in the interest of resolving policy conflicts between party caucuses.

On Sept. 17, Soong called for Chen to enter into talks with the legislature and said that he would take on a legislator-at-large seat should his proposal be accepted.

"I commend Chen for responding to my offer, even though he had no choice but to eventually answer to the public," he said yesterday.

Urging Chen to consider a debate, Soong said Chen should "accept the people's questions" to demonstrate his sincerity and allow the legislature to perform its function of supervising the executive.

Soong rejected claims from the Democratic Progressive Party that the Constitution does not allow for the president to be questioned in the legislature. As there was nothing expressively forbidding the president from debating the legislature, Chen should not hide behind excuses, Soong said.

He said that a number of PFP legislators-at-large had offered to forfeit their seats so that he could become a legislator. He hinted that Legislator Lee Tung-hao (李桐豪) would most likely be the one to give up his seat.

Soong said that he would regret any legislator resigning, but that he had to "pursue justice without turning back."

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