Fri, Oct 28, 2005 - Page 2 News List

President talks of the need for constitutional reform

CNA , TAIPEI

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) pledged yesterday that the second phase of constitutional reforms will be carried out according to the "deliberative democracy" concept of facilitating extensive citizen participation in the process.

Chen was speaking to a foreign delegation visiting Taiwan for an international conference on constitutional re-engineering, which has been organized by a Presidential Office panel promoting constitutional reforms.

Chen said the country achieved the first phase of its constitutional reforms on June 7, by abolishing the National Assembly to allow for public referendums on future constitutional amendments, which will give the people the final say in any proposed amendments.

According to Chen, Taiwan may appear to have practiced constitutional democracy for more than 50 years, but in reality, the system has only been in practice for around 20 years, because of the 38-year martial law period which followed soon after the Republic of China Constitution was promulgated in 1947.

Although seven rounds of constitutional reforms have been launched over the past 14 years, people are still not satisfied with the results, he claimed.

Chen noted that most of the earlier reforms were motivated by politics and not open to public participation.

As a result of such changes, the constitutional system in Taiwan appears extremely "outlandish," Chen claimed. He noted that the system is neither a presidential system, semi-presidential system nor a parliamentary system, a situation that he said has led to the current political instability in the country.

Therefore, he stressed, the second phase reform is necessary in order to maintain national competitiveness, and the concept of deliberative democracy should be employed in the next round of reform to realize "true democracy."

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