The Legislative Yuan’s constitutional amendment committee yesterday met for the first time, electing its five conveners and setting an objective to complete proposals, such as lowering the voting age, by next year.
The meeting comes after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) made their own proposals for constitutional amendments following the nine-in-one local elections in November last year.
With 38 lawmakers taking part, the committee elected the KMT’s Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) and Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), as well as the DPP’s Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) and Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) as its conveners.
The conveners immediately met and reached agreements to hold two public hearings on constitutional issues per week — starting on April 9 — for five consecutive weeks, hoping to finish amendment drafts by mid-June so that they can be voted on in a referendum on January 16 next year when the legislative and presidential elections are due, Cheng told reporters after the meeting.
However Lu said that it would be a “difficult job to come up with amendment drafts by mid-June, since different parties have different ideas on different issues.”
“We’re under tremendous pressure,” he said.
The KMT hopes to pass amendments to improve the parliamentary system, enabling the legislature to choose the premier, while the DPP hopes to lower the threshold for amending the Constitution as well as increase the number of seats in the legislature.
Both parties agree that the legal age for voting should be lowered from 20 to 18.
“We suggest a two-phase constitutional amendment process, so that we can put non-controversial amendment proposals, such as lowering the voting age, to referendum first and then take time to negotiate other issues,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Lai Chen-chang (賴振昌) accused the two major parties of overlooking the smaller parties after he was not chosen as a convener.
“Constitutional reform last time, which was also led by the two major parties, was criticized for overlooking the voices of the smaller parties,” Lai said.
“It’s the same situation again this time,” Lai added.
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