Chu proposes referendum on Constitution in 2016


TAIPEI — New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu reiterated a proposal on Sunday that would put a possible constitutional amendment on improving government accountability to a referendum in 2016 in tandem with a national election.

Chu, who is likely to be the next chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), said many people would like to amend the Constitution as soon as possible, but the earliest reasonable time would be in conjunction with the presidential or legislative elections in 2016.

Many people are dissatisfied with the current system of power without accountability, Chu said, and he advocated having more young adults and citizens’ groups participate in the political process.

As for which system might be adopted, ��of course, a parliamentary system is the one favored by most people at present,�� Chu added.

If the amendment were to be approved in a referendum, it could take effect during the next presidential election cycle in 2020, Chu said.

Lawmakers have been pushing the idea of amending the Constitution to address issues such as lowering the voting age, streamlining the government and possibly even modifying the current semi-presidential system that sees power shared between a popularly elected president and his appointed premier.

Besides embracing the concept of a parliamentary system, Chu also proposed lowering the minimum voting age to 18 instead of the current 20 to let more young people participate, introducing absentee voting and reviewing issues related to legislative elections.

Chu, currently a KMT vice chairman, registered to run for party chairman at KMT headquarters on Sunday afternoon. He is the only candidate for the post.

More than 106,000 KMT members have endorsed Chu’s bid for the job.

The KMT is scheduled to hold a vote Jan. 17 to elect a new chairman following President Ma Ying-jeou’s resignation from the post on Dec. 3 due to the party’s big defeat in the Nov. 29 local elections.

On the KMT’s controversial assets, Chu reiterated that the party must return any ill-gotten assets to the country, but that assets obtained through normal and legal channels should be used to nurture talent.

The real issue, he said, is to make the party’s finances and assets transparent and let all involved monitor them together.