Chen stresses reform commitment

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Mar 30, 2002 - Page 3

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday reiterated his commitment to carry out legislative reform before his term is up, saying he is confident that the reform of the Legislative Yuan will come right after the government's reorganization.

"Since we have amended the Constitution six times in past decades, the Legislative Yuan now has become the only central government institution representing public opinion," Chen said.

"Developing ways to let it operate rationally and effectively, reflect public opinion and supervise the government is the common expectation of the nation's people," Chen added.

Since the National Assembly was abolished as a result of constitutional amendments in 2000, almost all its powers, including the power to impeach or recall the president and the power to amend the ROC Constitution, have been transferred to the legislature.

Chen made the remarks at the opening session of a seminar on crafting a new legislature.

He reaffirmed his resolution to overcome potential difficulties that could block legislative reform.

"The public will not be disappointed [with my promise]," Chen said.

"No matter what obstacles or challenges we may encounter in the process, I will deliver on my campaign promise to complete legislative reform during my four-year term of office," Chen said.

He stressed that his reform agenda includes reducing the number of legislative seats, reorganizing the electoral system and adjusting the term of legislators.

"The number of seats should be reduced to a reasonable figure. It is also necessary to adjust the tenure of legislators, the election schedule and modify the legislature's internal operating rules," Chen said.

According to plans by the Ministry of the Interior to revamp the legislative electoral system, Taiwan would move from its "big multi-member district" system to a "small, single-member district" system.

But still undecided are proposals to use a "middle-size district" system to ease the transition and the adoption of a double-ballot system -- which would see one ballot cast for a political party and the other for a candidate.

"The government reform project is gearing up and the pace of the reform of the legislature should not be left behind," the president said.

Chen will chair the final conference of the Government Reform Committee, a temporary task force organized by the president, and produce its final blueprint for Cabinet reform today, while the Ministry of the Interior plans to offer its proposal for legislative reform very shortly.

"The public's widespread discontent with the legislature's past performance covers both structural and operational dimensions," Chen said. "I will do my utmost to push for sweeping legislative reform based on the overall national interest and general public opinion."