Constitutional Forum | Addressing national issues should be top priority: Taipei Mayor

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said rather than talking about amending the constitution, focusing on the domestic affairs is the primary task. (NOWnews)
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said rather than talking about amending the constitution, focusing on the domestic affairs is the primary task. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said on Friday that increasing communication between political parties should be the top priority, rather than amending the constitution.

Ko made the comment while attending the “Constitutional Forum” (修憲論壇) organized by online media NOWnews.com, a forum advocating constitutional reforms and featuring legal experts, politicians, students and media professionals.

Ko began his presentation with a historical review of the constitution of the Republic of China (ROC). The current constitution was adopted in 1946 when the ROC government was still in mainland China, he said, noting that it hasn’t changed much since authorities relocated to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated by the Chinese Communist Party.

By pointing to history, Ko said it’s the right time to discuss how to make the constitution better suit Taiwan society, including lowering the voting age to 18 years old, which he called a “social consensus.”

Ko then remarked that there are many problems with the current system, saying that the president has “power” to decide but does not have to take responsibility for what he or she did.

Still, Ko said it is almost impossible to amend the constitutional system right now and gave three reasons for the stalemate in light of which he said that any constitutional amendment is “just for discussion.”

To begin with, Ko said although people are obviously unsatisfied with the current political situation, there is no agreement regarding a future constitution, including, whether Taiwan should adopt a presidential, semi-presidential, or a parliamentary system.

Second, the threshold for a constitutional amendment is too high. According to regulations, you need at least three-quarters of legislators in attendance and at least 75 percent of them agreeing with the constitutional amendment.

Third, Taiwan politics is trapped in a “blue-green” divide, also known as the dilemma between whether Taiwan should be independent or should unite with China.

Ko then stressed that rather than discussing how to amend the constitution, we should discuss cross-strait relations and Taiwan’s political stance, change our “political culture” and focus on addressing national issues. These should be the top priority of Taiwan politicians.