Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Ma’s constitutional reform ideas slammed

TREADING CAREFULLY:The president said issues like the voting age had to be handled well to prevent the legislature passing a bill the public would vote down

By Wang Wen-hsuan, Chen Yen-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) attitude toward proposed constitutional amendments has not only drawn criticism from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, but also triggered discontent in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) on Wednesday briefed Ma at the Presidential Office on the party’s draft constitutional reform proposal, but told KMT caucus colleagues upon his return that Ma was reserved about the matter.

Surprised by what some said was Ma’s foot-dragging, KMT legislators called on the president to “keep pace” with the times and said it was a shame that the KMT could not enact reforms when it is the ruling party.

Ma’s reportedly agreed that the Legislative Yuan should regain the power to consent to presidential nominations for premier, but is concerned about the idea of lowering the voting age to 18 — a proposal that has been backed by the KMT and the DPP — which led KMT Legislator Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) yesterday to say: “He [Ma] is thinking too much.”

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) said that if the party was able to enact internal reforms, such as allowing 18-year-olds to run for party chairman and allowing overseas party members to vote via Web cams, it should not be impossible for it to enact similar reforms as the ruling party.

As for Ma’s concern about increasing the number of legislative seats and allowing lawmakers to join the government, Ting said that most countries following a parliamentary system of government adhere to such a model.

According to Lu, Ma said every nation had different way of doing things and the issue should be further investigated.

Ma also said he wanted to hear from more experts and hold public hearings to discuss why the Legislative Yuan should be the only governmental organization to increase its numbers, while the Control Yuan, Judicial Yuan and the Examination Yuan are to cut personnel, as the KMT proposed, Lu said.

Ma did not disagree with lowering the voting age, allowing absentee voting and lowering the subsidy threshold for political parties, but he said the last public opinion poll on lowering the voting age had drawn more opposition than agreement, Lu said.

Lu quoted the president as saying that another survey needs be held on the issue to ensure that a situation does not occur where the Legislative Yuan passes a bill, but the public votes it down.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said Ma and KMT Chairman and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) are apparently at odds over the question of constitutional amendments, since Ma voiced opposition in June last year to amending the Constitution.

From the beginning, the KMT has been calculating what political benefits it can gain from changing the Constitution, Lee said.

The only reason the KMT is pushing for a parliamentary system is so it can retain control of the central government if it loses the next presidential election, Lee added.

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