Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma says constitutional reform not the answer

UNHAPPY The Chinese Nationalist Party chairman said that it made no sense to amend the Constitution again and criticized Wang Jin-pyng's about-face on the issue

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Constitutional amendments are not a panacea for the burning issues facing Taiwan, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.

The priority should be to implement the current Constitution correctly and to deal with livelihood issues, he said.

"I do not oppose constitutional reform, but amendment is not the only way [of solving political problems]. The Constitution was amended two years ago, and it makes no sense to change it again before we have had a chance to put it into practice," he said.

Ma made the comments yesterday after attending a symposium entitled "The Growth of Constitutional Democracy and its Challenges" held by the National Policy Foundation at National Taiwan University.

In his speech entitled "A New Frontier for Constitutional Democracy in Taiwan," the chairman stressed the importance of implementing the Constitution and respecting the spirit of the dual executive system.

"The current Constitution adopts the dual executive system. If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins a majority in the legislature and the KMT wins [the presidential election] in 2008, we will respect the system and nominate a premier who is acceptable to the legislature," he said.

The Constitution is modeled on the French dual-executive system and has undergone seven rounds of amendments since 1991. Under such a system, the president's ability to secure his position through the appointment of a premier depends on whether his party controls the legislature.

The DPP has claimed that Taiwan's system is not a "genuine" semi-presidential system, because it does not empower the president to make a unilateral decision to dismiss the legislature. The president can only do so after the legislature has passed vote of no-confidence against the premier.

Ma said that while it was possible to change to either a parliamentary or presidential system, it was not clear whether this was desirable or not. While governing under the current system might not be easy, the chairman said, seeking cross-party cooperation was part of the "art" of politics.

"No matter what system is in place, the spirit of democracy is to obey the majority while respecting the minority. If we can't keep follow this spirit, no system will run smoothly in Taiwan," Ma said.

Besides criticizing the president and the DPP for failing to put the Constitution into practice, Ma expressed his dissatisfaction with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) support for constitutional re-engineering and asked the media to examine Wang's previous position on the issue.

"Last year former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Speaker Wang and I all supported cutting the number of seats in the legislature, and we took a very firm stance on the matter. How can [Wang] hope to persuade people with his reasoning when he changed his position within a year?" Ma asked.

Certain legislators from both the pan-green and pan-blue camps plan to jointly propose a constitutional amendment that would increase the number of legislative seats from 113 to 164, change the "single-member district, two-vote system" into a "multi-member district" system and adopt a parliamentary system of government.

Wang has voiced his support for the proposal, and said that where the KMT is concerned, the issue should be decided by the party's caucus.

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