Fri, Dec 17, 2004 - Page 3 News List

President notes Marshall Islands' political system

REFORM Chen Shui-bian cited the system, in which the president also serves as the prime minister, as an option in considering a revamp of the Constitution

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Citing the Marshall Islands as an example -- where the president also doubles as the prime minister -- President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said this could be an option to consider when deliberating the nation's constitutional reform.

Chen made the remarks last night while having dinner with Kessai Hesa Note, president of the Marshall Islands, in Taitung.

Chen suggested that Presidential General-Secretary Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is in charge of seeking public input on Chen's plan to re-engineer the Constitution, could include the system used in the Marshall Islands as an example and take it into consideration in discussions on constitutional reforms.

The Presidential Office later clarified the statement, dismissing media speculation that Chen's remarks suggested he wished to serve as premier. The president had mentioned the Marshall Islands' political structure as an example the opposition may want to incorporate and discuss in the future, a statement from the office said.

In the Marshall Islands, the party holding the majority in the legislature has the power to choose the president, who also serves as prime minister, and form a Cabinet. The existing Constitution would not allow this set-up in Taiwan's legislature.

Separately, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that the decision on who will eventually serve as premier rests with the president.

"The pan-blue camp is only making a recommendation, and the president is still to decide on who will be premier," Wang said when asked about Chiang's prospects for the position. "Anyone, be they from a party or the media, can recommend candidates for premier, and this is fine as long as the decision is made by the president," Wang said.

Meanwhile, the race for the speaker's and deputy speaker's posts in the legislature hotted up within the pan-blue camp yesterday.

Wang confirmed that People First Party (PFP) Deputy Secretary-General Ma Chieh-ming (馬傑明) had called him after the election to express support for his reelection.

"But Ma made no mention of a candidate for the deputy speakership," Wang said.

When asked about whether it would be possible for a PFP lawmaker to serve as his deputy, Wang was non-committal.

"There is still a long way to go, and it is too early to talk about this. Right now we'll focus on legislative work first," he said.

To fortify support from the PFP, and in response to PFP Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) demand for vision for the legislature's future, Wang has proposed reforms relating to the legislature's self-discipline, dignity, autonomy and culture.

According to the Wang camp, Wang proposed to amend laws and strengthen the legislature's Discipline Committee to better regulate lawmakers' behavior.

To enhance the legislature's dignity, government officials who do not cooperate with the legislature would be sent directly to the Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries.

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