Tue, Nov 16, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Chang explains draft constitution's birth

LABOR OF LOVE One of the drafters of the newly unveiled `Constitution of the Republic of Taiwan,' Chang Cheng-shuh, spent 13 years polishing his brainchild

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chang Cheng-shuh, making a point about the draft ``Constitution of the Republic of Taiwan.''

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

As a drafter of the controversial "Constitution of the Republic of Taiwan," Chang Cheng-shuh (張正修) breathed a sigh of relief when his brainchild eventually saw the light of day after 13 years of painstaking labor.

When Chang, a member of the Examination Yuan and also of the Taiwan Professors Association (TPA) that unveiled the draft on Sunday, first proposed the draft in 1991 -- then called the "Taiwan Constitution" -- and later a revised version in 1994, he said that it was aimed at echoing the "first wave" of constitutional amendment movements.

"I was one of the few who jumped at the hard-to-come-by opportunity to draw up the blueprint," he said.

The "first wave" of constitutional amendment movements started in 1991 when additional articles were added to the Constitution to legalize direct elections for the National Assembly and Legislative Yuan.

It escalated in 1994 when more constitutional clauses were added to allow the election of the president and vice-president by popular vote. The Legislative Yuan was also vested with the power to recall the president and vice-president, while the National Assembly was stripped of this power.

Pigeonholed

The two drafts were pigeonholed owing to the political situation at the time. The authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration was still in power and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) then occupied only 15 seats in the 161-seat legislature.

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) call this year for a new constitution ushered in the "fourth wave" of constitutional amendment movements and motivated Chang and his association to make public the latest version of the draft, or the "Constitution of the Republic of Taiwan."

Specializing in constitutional studies and regional governance at school, the University of Tokyo-educated holder of a doctoral degree in law included a controversial clause in the draft to give the legislature the power to deprive a local government of its autonomy if its actions conflict with decisions made by the central government.

The outspoken Chang frankly admitted that the clause, dubbed the "[Taipei City Mayor] Ma Ying-jeou clause" (馬英九條款), was targeted at Ma, who he called "defiant" because he constantly challenges the central government's policies.

"Take the Romanization system, for example. Taipei City insists on adopting the Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音) system, while the central government embraces the Tong-yong (通用) system," he said.

"His [Ma's] incompetence in dealing with the pan-blue camp's illegal protests in front of the Presidential Office and the president's official residence after the March 20 presidential election also seriously jeopardized social order in the capital," he said.

In addition to the draft constitution, Chang was also involved in the drafting of the Referendum Law (公投法), the Education Fundamental Law (教育基本法) and the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法).

Deadlock

When the Examination Yuan was deadlocked over whether to continue the nation's history and geography tests in January's entry-level national civil-service examinations, Chang, an Examination Yuan member nominated by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), proposed renaming the test from "national history and geography" to "Taiwan's history and geography" to avoid confusion.

Displeased with the way his proposal and three others were handled at the Examination Yuan meeting, Chang later issued a press statement to vent his discontent and criticize the final decision as being "uncivilized."

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