Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-16 03:02 PM
Calls for basic changes to the country’s political system grew louder during the March 18-April 10 occupation of the Legislative Yuan by students protesting against the trade-in-services pact with China. The subsequent debate about a referendum on the fourth nuclear plant and the campaign for the recall of Kuomintang lawmakers also added fuel to the fire.
At a DPP-sponsored forum Friday, Su said the Constitution could only reflect the progress in society if the barriers standing in the way of amending it were lowered. At present, an amendment can only be approved if at least a quarter of lawmakers file a proposal, at least three quarters show up and three quarters of those vote in favor. In addition, more than half the people have to vote yes in a referendum before the amendment is considered valid.
Only if the threshold was lowered, could the Constitution be said to have been freed from its present frozen status, Su said. As a result of the recent social movements, citizens should take a closer look at the shortcomings and restrictions in the present Constitution, according to the opposition leader.
The number of members of the Legislative Yuan, currently officially at 113, should be raised by a reasonable amount, Su said, adding that the ideal size would lie between 200 and 300. The size of the legislative body has repeatedly changed over the years, with increases or cuts often being presented as favorable to more efficiency.
Su also wanted to change the structure of the Legislature, with an expansion directed at the numbers of so-called “at-large” lawmakers chosen from a list according to the proportion of the vote won by their party. The lists of new candidates should favor younger people, civil society and action groups, he said.
The DPP chairman suggested a closer look at the current link between motions of no confidence in the government and its right to disband the Legislature and call new elections. At present, the premier had no right to send the Legislative Yuan home if there was a major conflict, making the emergence of a new public opinion more difficult.
The Legislature also needed to be strengthened vis-à-vis the presidency, with the rights of legislation, investigation, control and impeachment to be concentrated in its hands, Su proposed. Only more powers for the Legislative Yuan would lead to a fair balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government, according to the opposition leader.
If the Legislature was allowed to increase its powers, the Control Yuan could be abolished while the Examination Yuan could also disappear with the Cabinet taking over its duties, Su said, voicing a long-running DPP demand.
The head of the opposition also reiterated his call for a lower threshold for referendums, a topic which came to the forefront again during last month’s hunger strike by former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung against the fourth nuclear plant.
Speaking at Friday’s forum, National Dong Hwa University Professor Shih Cheng-feng compared the existing Constitution to second-hand clothes, saying it had been designed for another country and not taken Taiwan into account. Taiwan did not need an amended Republic of China Constitution, but a completely new document, he said.
Shih criticized the DPP for supporting a presidential system of government when it was in power and a Cabinet system when it was in the opposition. He described the existing system as an unclear mix of presidential and Cabinet styles of government.
At a separate news conference, DPP legislators proposed that the minimum age to vote in elections should be lowered to 18 from 20, while membership of the party should be allowed from the age of 16.