DPP: Giver Power Back to the People

April 3 - The response by President Ma to the students’ call for a “citizen’s constitutional conference”  was the “national affairs conference”. DPP Chair Su Tseng-chang urges the government to return the power to the people. Following is Chair Su’s statement on the 17th day the students have occupied the Legislative Yuan:

The student movement has reached its 17th day, but President Ma clearly cannot understand the demands from the student groups and the real meaning behind their movement. What we see is the Office of the President and the Executive Yuan holding press conferences, but in all their remarks, they avoid the real questions, and this I believe, does not resolve any problems.

The students requested to “first enact a law, then review the agreement”. As it was done in South Korea to supervise free trade agreements, they hope to pass a law that would monitor cross strait agreements article by article, but the Executive Yuan today issued their own draft of the bill. While their ability to convert administrative orders into poetic lines, this absolutely cannot effectively monitor cross strait agreements.

The students requested a “citizen’s constitutional conference”, but in these 17 days, President Ma has moved no mountains and has refused to respond to the majority of public opinion standing behind the students. The Executive Yuan continues their spinning, avoiding the issue with their own version of a “national affairs conference”, while the KMT legislators are following President Ma’s orders instead of the citizens’ orders. We have major problems here, not only having to do with the Cross Strait Services Trade Agreement, the review process conducted in 30 seconds or the constitutional issues of our country, but also our entire system of government.

Our current constitution is showing that our president has no responsibility and while the threshold to dismiss the cabinet or impeach the president are all very high, our elected legislators are unable to represent public interests. This leaves a president under 9% in approval ratings with the power to push his own policy. Over 70% of the public has requested stopping construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but the president is allowed to disregard this opinion. Only 30% support the Cross Strait Services Trade Agreement, but the president is persistent in seeing it passed to the end.

This is the challenge our country is facing, in which only under a selective period allowed to re-elect officials, the people have lost their power to balance and the tools to supervise the actions of the government. This is the main reason why the students have occupied our legislature, requesting for a “citizen’s constitutional conference”.

In order to break our country from this deadlock and move forward, we are offering two solutions:

The president must promise the students to “first enact a law, then review the agreement”:
The people have already expressed their opinion regarding the non-transparency behind the Cross Strait Services Agreement, and to immediately review of this agreement will create even more contention. The Ma administration expressed approval for a bill that would create mechanism to monitor and review cross strait agreements, and each side has produced their own version of the draft bill, so it is necessary now to go through legislative review. However, this should not be done in a hurry. Furthermore, the DPP believes that this step is necessary before the review of the Cross Strait Services Trade Agreement in order to resolve the people’s concerns over non-transparency in cross strait negotiations.

Hold a “citizen’s constitutional conference” to return the power to the people:

In addition to the current major controversies our country is facing, including the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the decline of our social security network and the conduct behind the Cross Strait Services Trade Agreement, we must also look into revising our constitution. These reforms include: lowering the threshold of constitutional amendments so that our constitution can respond to the needs and changes of our community. We must review impeachment, cabinet dismissal and referendum thresholds as well as government institutions and the electoral system. We need to design and re-establish the responsibilities consistent with the constitutional system so that the people can take back their power and effectively implement the right checks and balances.

It has been 17 days and this deadlock must be unraveled. The students have opened the door to let the country ahead of the times, and the DPP hopes that every sector of society can seize this historic opportunity to deepen Taiwan’s democracy.