Wed, May 03, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma defuses KMT amendment spat

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman seemed to have persuaded the party's legislators not to continue in their pursuit of further constitutional amendments last night after KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-po (許舒博), the initiator of the original proposal, said he would respect the party's final decision.

Hsu made the remarks after party legislators finished a meeting with KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last night.

The dispute over constitutional amendments had earlier threatened to cause a split within the ranks of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as the party chairman and party caucus failed to agree whether a further round of constitutional amendment was necessary.

Ma yesterday morning had reiterated his support for the current dual executive system, or semi-presidential system, and said the issue of restoring the legislature's right of consent to the appointment of a premier could be solved through other measures.

"Systemic problems can be solved with the help of interpretations from the grand justices, through legislation or through the establishment of constitutional understanding," Ma said yesterday after presiding over a municipal meeting at Taipei City Hall.

Ma made the remarks in response to the proposal's shift of focus from increasing the number of seats in the legislature to restoring the legislature's right of approving the appointment of the premier.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) both indicated their support for such a proposal after their meeting on Monday.

PFP Spokesman Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉) yesterday said the party was opposed to constitutional amendments that could lead to de jure Taiwanese independence, but supported the idea of restoring the legislature's authority to approve the nomination of premier.

But prior to meeting with KMT legislators last night to discuss proposals to amend the Constitution, Ma declared his opposition to any constitutional revision at this stage.

"If you want to discuss problems with our Constitution, there are a lot to talk about. The point is whether it's appropriate to discuss them now. I don't mean that our Constitution is perfect, but currently it should be suitable for Taiwan," he said yesterday morning at Taipei City Hall.

Some KMT legislators, however, continued to stand firm on moving on with constitutional revisions, despite opposition from the party chairman.

"If we don't talk about increasing the number of seats in the legislature in the constitutional amendments, then it doesn't count," said KMT Legislator Hou Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) yesterday morning after meeting with KMT Secretary-General Chan Chuan-bo (詹春柏) at the party headquarters.

A group of KMT legislators yesterday said that Ma's opposition to amending the Constitution was final, doubting that the chairman would take the opinions of legislators into account on the issue.

Wang said that Ma was planning to pass a resolution in the party's legislative caucus meeting prohibiting legislators from bringing up constitutional amendment in the legislature.

Ma has arranged two meetings with KMT legislators -- one yesterday and one tomorrow -- to discuss proposals to amend the Constitution.

But after the first meeting with Ma last night, Wang appeared to soften his previous position on asking Ma to remain open to the idea of amending the Constitution.

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