Sun, Jan 28, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Group unveils draft constitution

REFORMS The proposed constitution seeks to limit the office of the president toTaiwan-born citizens and restrict political parties from profit-making activities

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A private constitutional reform group yesterday made public a draft constitution which proposed calling the country Taiwan and advocated a presidential system.

Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧), convener of the New Constitution Workshop, said the country had reached its "constitutional moment" and there was no turning back from enacting a new constitution and revising the national title.

Lee, who was previously in favor of a parliamentary system, said he had changed his position because he realized that it would be dangerous to let legislators double up as ministers, taking into account the quality of lawmakers and the country's political divisions.

Lee, who supervised President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when Chen studied law at National Taiwan University, said the group's draft, dubbed "Taiwan Constitution," did not have anything to do with Chen nor did the president have any preference for the system of government.

The preamble of the draft declares that the constitution is established by the people of Taiwan to consolidate Taiwan's sustainable independence, peace and security. Taiwan is a free, democratic republic that is governed by the rule of law and promotes general welfare.

Former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), who has proposed a "Second Republic" constitution, said he would like to see the draft specify that the government has a responsibility to preserve freedom and democracy for Kinmen and Matsu despite the fact that the outlying islands are "not part of Taiwan."

Saying that he agreed Kinmen and Matsu "are not part of Tai-wan," Lee said he did not think it was necessary to specify the fact in the constitution.

While the current Constitution stipulates a five-branch government, the draft proposes three branches.

The draft uses a neutral tone to describe the relationship between Taiwan and China, stating that the countries must get along peacefully with each other.

The proposal opposes the death sentence and approves same sex marriage. The age at which citizens have the right to vote would be changed from 20 to 18.

In addition to the legislature and the president being able to initiate a national referendum, the people would also be given that right. The people would have the right to launch a plebiscite to amend the Constitution, change territorial boundaries or address national sovereignty.

The executive power would be vested in the president, who together with the vice president would be chosen by a popular vote and serve a four-year term.

The draft states that no person except a Taiwan-born citizen can be eligible for the office of president.

It also proposes that the president should, from time to time, brief the legislature on the state of the nation and recommend for their consideration such measures as he judges necessary.

The legislature should be composed of 90 regional legislators, 60 legislators at large and six Aboriginal representatives, each for a two-year term, it suggested.

The draft also proposes establishing an independent body, the national audit commission, to be nominated by the president and approved by the legislature.

It also suggests banning political parties from managing or investing in profit-making busi-nesses and requiring them to make public their source of income and assets.

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