Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Constitutional reform still on the agenda, official says

PUSHING AHEAD Recent scandals have not derailed the president's plans to push for constitutional changes, according to a Presidential Office official

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Constitutional reform will forge ahead despite the campaign launched by the opposition to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The Chen administration has been dogged by a string of scandals in recent months.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) yesterday said there was no doubt that President Chen would continue to push the constitutional re-engineering project in the remaining two years of his term.

Mark Chen said that the president had instructed him to keep close contact with Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), former director of the Constitutional Re-engineering Office at the Presidential Office, on a regular basis, although the office ceased its operation on April 26.

The office was disbanded, along with five other non-institutional bodies set up under the Presidential Office, in response to a request made by the legislature.

The Legislative Yuan passed a resolution in January requesting that six non-institutional bodies set up under the Presidential Office be dissolved.

They are the Constitutional Re-engineering Office, the Human Rights Advisory Committee, the Science and Technology Advisory Committee, the preparatory group for the national human rights memorial museum, the Gender Mainstreaming Advisory Panel and the Youth Corps.

Lee yesterday said the second wave of constitutional reform was important because the current political chaos originates from the governmental system, which is vaguely defined in the Constitution. To resolve the problem once and for all, he said it was necessary to change the system itself.

Allen Houng (洪裕宏), convener of the Constitutional Reform Alliance, said constitutional reform was a movement voluntarily supported by many civic groups, including his, and it had little to do with President Chen.

"We will continue to push on even if President Chen is recalled," he said.

Houng also said he believed that President Chen, who he described as an "uncrushable rose," would make an effort to realize his promise of constitutional reform because it was his historical mission.

President Chen has expressed the hope of seeing a constitution that is timely, relevant and viable for the country in place by the time his term expires in 2008.

Houng blamed the governmental system for undermining the government's efficiency and said that his association vehemently opposed a semi-presidential, or dual leadership, governmental system.

As a presidential system was prone to creating strong-man politics, Houng said that his group favored a bicameral parliamentary system, consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Houng said that a parliamentary system creates more political stability because government decisions are jointly made by all political parties.

Under his group's proposal for a parliamentary system, Houng said the president would be head of state and serve a six-year term. The president would be elected by a college of representatives composed of the Senate, House of Representatives and councilors of special municipalities, counties and cities. The Senate leader would take over the presidency if the president could not perform his or her duties. If the Senate leader were incapacitated, the head of the House of Representatives would be next in line to assume power.

The premier would be the head of the government and be elected by the House of Representatives and appointed by the president. The vice premier and Cabinet officials would be recommended by the premier and appointed by the president.

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