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Tsai emphasizes constitutional reform at DPP national congress

2017/09/24 19:46:24

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)

Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Sunday to renew discussion on the party's direction in a new age, with constitutional reform a key focus.

At the DPP national congress, Tsai, who doubles as the party's chairperson, announced that she has instructed party think tanks to begin next week discussing 12 key areas, including diplomacy and international participation, regional security, cross-strait relations and national defense.

Other areas include freedom and human rights, political systems, finance and economics, social welfare, labor affairs, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and animal husbandry.

The discussions will first take place within the DPP and be linked with issues of broad societal concern, such as constitutional reform, Tsai said in an address to the congress.

She pointed out that issues like lowering the voting age to 18 and the problem of malapportionment - the imbalance of votes and seats in the Legislature - have had wide public support for years but no effort has been made to resolve them through constitutional reform.

With people's desire for a more efficient government, Tsai said the DPP has the duty to "build a democratic constitutional system in Taiwan that runs perfectly."

However, constitutional reforms are considered extremely difficult to introduce because under the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China, a proposal cannot be approved without the support of more than half the eligible voters in the country.

In other words, such proposals must secure the support of at least 9 million people, based on the 18.78 million eligible voters in the 2016 presidential election.

In her speech at the DPP national congress, which was held at the Grand Hotel in Taipei on Sunday, Tsai called for party unity.

She said that although there have been many disputes within the DPP, a democratic party, "our disputes should be about values and party line, not individual interests."

Tsai's remarks came amid a controversial petition submitted by party representatives calling for a special pardon for former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who led the DPP to victory in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, ending the long-term political dominance of the Kuomintang.

Chen was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 20 years in prison shortly after completing his second term in 2008.

He was incarcerated at Taichung Prison, but was released in January 2015 on medical parole and has since lived in Kaohsiung.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Elizabeth Hsu)