Fri, Dec 19, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Lee denies reports he is backing Chu and opposing Tsai

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday denied media reports that he was throwing his support behind New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) to keep Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in check, saying he only agreed with Chu’s proposal for constitutional reform.

While delivering a speech at a fundraising banquet for the Taiwan Association of University Professors last Saturday, Lee said that changing Taiwan’s semi-presidential system of government to a parliamentary one might be a good idea, as a premier who does not perform well could be recalled any time through a no-confidence vote, instead of having to wait for the next election when the presidential term is over.

The statement has been interpreted by many media outlets as an expression of support for Chu aimed at keeping Tsai in check, as it was made after Chu voiced his support for constitutional reform and the change to a parliamentary system.

“Last Saturday, you [the media] asked if I would support Chu’s suggestion for a switch to a parliamentary system. I mentioned the parliamentary system [in my speech] because the premier may be replaced whenever the public is dissatisfied with his or her policies,” Lee said during a year-end banquet with reporters in Taipei yesterday.

“However, with the parliamentary system, the president would have no actual power. Taiwan has had five direct presidential elections and it would be strange to elect someone who would not have actual power,” he said.

Lee added that direct presidential elections help to enhance national consciousness and are a symbolic declaration to the world that Taiwan is an independent nation, which is important for a country that is “not normal” like Taiwan.

“We should also consider whether abolishing direct popular elections of the president would be acceptable to the public,” Lee said.

He added that his statement was not a voice of support or opposition to anyone, but he believes that political leaders and society must gather together to discuss the constitutional issue in detail.

“My priority has always been the people,” Lee said.

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