TAIPEI (CNA) — The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) called on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Wednesday to guarantee that a constitutional amendment committee she proposed in her inaugural address will not be used to pursue changes to Taiwan’s national status or cross-strait relations.
In her second term inaugural address earlier that day, Tsai announced plans to establish a constitutional amendment committee in the Legislative Yuan, which she said would serve as a “platform for discussion of constitutional reforms pertaining to government systems and people’s rights.”
The committee’s first priority would be to lower Taiwan’s voting age from 20 to 18, Tsai said, noting that there is broad bipartisan consensus for such a policy.
In response to the proposal, KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said there was “total agreement” on the need to lower the voting age to 18, but urged Tsai to clarify that the committee will not be used to pursue changes to “sensitive” issues such as Taiwan’s national status and cross-strait affairs.
In separate remarks that day, Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), a lawmaker from Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), left the door open to the committee pursuing more extensive changes.
While there is wide agreement on lowering the voting age, “the scope of constitutional reforms won’t be limited to just this issue,” Chung said.
Chiang, meanwhile, urged Tsai to provide more details on plans to repurpose the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan — two branches of Taiwan’s five-branch government.
Reforms to constitutionally defined agencies could require legislative approval, Chiang said, depending on the extent of the changes sought.
In her speech, Tsai said the government will establish a national human rights commission in August under the Control Yuan, which is responsible for monitoring and investigating other branches of the government.
The Examination Yuan will also expand beyond its current role in validating the qualifications of civil servants and will become “an effective human resource department that can cultivate the talent a modern government needs,” Tsai said.
In response to the proposals, KMT lawmaker Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said his party generally maintains “an open mind” to institutional reforms.
Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), whose New Power Party occupies the other end of Taiwan’s political spectrum, said he favors abolishing both of the agencies, but suggested lowering the voting age first, given the high threshold needed for passing a constitutional amendment.
According to the Constitution, an amendment must be initiated by 25 percent of the Legislative Yuan, and must be passed by at least 75 percent of the Legislature, with at least 75 percent of the members attending.
Tsai’s DPP caucus currently controls 63 of the Legislature’s 113 seats, meaning that they would need some opposition support to pass any kind of constitutional amendment.