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Incoming ruling party to discuss 'neutral' speaker issue

2016/01/19 21:26:20

Taipei, Jan. 19 (CNA) The selection of a "neutral" speaker to lead the Legislative Yuan that will be sworn in Feb. 1 will be the focus of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP's) first Central Standing Committee meeting Wednesday following its landslide victory in Saturday's elections.

DPP sources said Tuesday that other issues to be discussed at the meeting will relate to reforming the Legislature, one of President-elect Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) campaign promises.

During the campaign, Tsai promised to "lower the threshold" for small parties to have lawmakers. Currently, only a party that garners more than 5 percent of valid votes is eligible for at-large seats in the Legislature.

The DPP chairwoman also pledged to work on ways and means to improve the professional abilities of assistants to legislators so that they can put forth higher-quality legislative bills.

Regarding the selection of a "neutral" speaker who will place national interests above partisan preferences, several names have been raised within the party who could vie for the top legislative job. All are DPP members.

They include Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), a former interior minister and Tsai's campaign manager; Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), the party caucus chief whip; and Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), a politician from Chiayi County.

A new name that emerged Tuesday in connection with the speakership is Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), a two-term "young turk" who has been recommended by some party heavyweights. Tsai Chi-chang, who will begin his third legislative term, said he would consider plunging into the competition.

Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), who just earned back a legislative seat by being on the DPP's at-large candidates list, said he will announce his intention to run for the top legislative job after making sure of who he will be vying with if he so decides.

Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said Saturday's election results reflect the rise of a younger generation of politicians, so they should have no qualms about taking the jobs of speaker and deputy speaker.

Those who have the ability to communicate, integrate, convince and push for reforms should take the responsibility of leading the Legislature, she said.

Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), another DPP lawmaker, said people are expecting a wider and deeper reform of the nation's highest lawmaking body, so the selection of speaker should not be DPP business but rather should be based on a supra-partisan consensus that should also include society's views.

The DPP won 68 of the 113 seats in the new Legislature, becoming the majority party for the first time in the legislative history of the Republic of China.

The majority will become even bigger now that an independent legislator-elect in Taoyuan, Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇), has said he will join the DPP caucus when he is sworn in early next month.

(By Wen Kui-hsiang, Wang Cheng-chung, Lu Hsin-hui and S.C. Chang)