Mon, Jul 22, 2019 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Han Kuo-yu urges accountability in politics

In an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporters Wang Jung-hsiang, Ko Yu-hao and Chang Chung-yi on July 5, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, who on July 15 won the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential primary, expounded on his political views and said that he is the candidate that the Democratic Progressive Party is most afraid of

By Wang Jung-hsiang, Ko Yu-hao and Chang Chung-yi  /  Staff reporters

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu gestures during an interview with Liberty Times reporters at his office on July 5.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): You have proposed having the president double as the premier and of working as president from Kaohsiung. These would be unconstitutional. Would you amend the Constitution if you became president?

Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜): The current system has resulted in the phenomenon of those having authority not needing to shoulder the responsibility, while others possess no authority, but need to shoulder responsibility. Obviously this unbalanced situation has to be adjusted to make authority and responsibility correspond. Former premier William Lai (賴清德) previously proposed that Cabinet members should be chosen from the ranks of lawmakers.

I pitched these ideas so people can discuss then, although I do not think constitutional changes are likely. Amendments to the Constitution must to pass the high threshold of being ratified by three-quarters of the Legislative Yuan and a referendum. However, there are alternatives, such as making a newly appointed premier present their policy agenda to the legislature before the latter takes a vote of confidence on them.

Essentially, the premier would need the legislature’s seal of approval before taking office, which gives the position more legitimacy. Otherwise, the premier is merely the president’s chief of staff, to be summoned and dismissed at will.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has gone through three premiers so far; my television at home lasts longer than that. Premiers should not be disposable.

The president’s authority is clearly defined by the Council of Grand Justices Interpretation No. 627 as being in charge of national defense, diplomacy, cross-strait policy and the fundamental agenda of government. All other duties lie in the province of the premier as head of the Executive Yuan. The nation’s future president must find the character to get out of their premier’s way and to respect the constitutional framework of the political system.

Making constitutional amendments is a highly involved and could require cooperation between parties, which is also time-consuming. Constitutional reforms probably should be done some other way. Setting the precedence of holding a vote of confidence [for the premier] would show that the president is serious about bringing accountability to politics.

LT: If you are elected president, how would you conduct cross-strait relations?

Han: I have reiterated the four points time and again and very clearly: Defend the Republic of China (ROC); reject “one country, two systems”; love freedom and democracy; stand with peace and prosperity.

These points are profound. The roles for the hearts, brains, hands and feet of 23 million Taiwanese need to be clearly defined. The feet are our democracy and freedoms that must stand firm; the hands are for shaking with people from every ethnic group, nation and class; the hearts are for knowing that the Taiwanese economy is in a hard place and a lot of people are suffering; the brains are for finding every possible chance of growth for Taiwan.

Once we know these roles, we will be confident in our freedoms and democracy. Even if we shake hands with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, that does not mean Taiwan is developing atomic bombs. We should be confident in the strength of our feet, which are our freedoms and democracy, and be brave and fearless.

LT: You had prompted public concern when you visited the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong [on March 22]. Will you be willing to make changes or adjustments in that regard?

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