Political heavyweights from the pan-blue camp yesterday called on Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to be open to the idea of amending the Constitution.
"We are willing to consider the necessity of constitutional amendments if restoring the legislature's right of consent to the appointment of a premier is one of the issues," People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said after a one-hour meeting with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
Wang has responded positively to the idea of create a parliamentary system.
Wang visited Soong to discuss some long-stalled bills and other legislative business, including the arms procurement budget and the president's nominations for the Control Yuan and for the state public prosecutor-general.
Last week KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) proposed an amendment to increase the number of legislative seats from 113 to 164 and change the electoral system from single-member districts to multiple-member districts.
Hsu's amendment also suggests that a parliamentary system be adopted.
Ma had asked KMT members not to officially bring up a constitutional amendment at the legislature.
Wang spoke for Hsu, saying that increasing the number of legislative seats was not the point of Hsu's amendment.
"The point is to restore the legislature's right of consent to the president's appointment of a premier and to demand the president promulgate laws and issue ordinances that have been counter-signed by the premier," Wang said.
Responding to Ma's request that KMT members stop talking about constitutional amendments and get back to dealing with economic issues, Wang said that the two issues were not mutually exclusive.
Pressed by reporters yesterday, Hsu hinted that his amendment was targeted at Ma, the leading contender to be the KMT's presidential candidate in 2008.
"My main reason for trying to change the current government system to a parliamentary one was to prevent the possibility of a `super president,'" Hsu said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chuo-shui (
For his part, Ma visited former KMT chairman Lien Chan (
KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) said Lien suggested that Ma improve communications with the party's legislators on this issue and enhance his interaction with them on other issues from time to time.
Ma apparently took Lien's advice. He has arranged for two meetings with KMT legislators -- one today and one on Thursday -- to discuss proposals to amend the Constitution.
Wang said that he would attend the meetings.