Taiwan's president-elect Tsai proposes 'neutral' legislature speaker

Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen waves to reporters after speaking during a news conference in Taipei.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - With the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winning a majority in the Legislature, its self-declared next step is carrying out its promised legislative reforms, including discussing a "neutral" speaker, which was on the agenda Wednesday.

DPP Chairwoman and President-elect Tsai Ing-wen proposed "three nos" for the Legislature's speaker and deputy speaker at the DPP Central Standing Committee meeting, which were reported to the media by DPP spokesman Ruan Jhao-syong.

The two shall not attend political party events; they shall not hold other positions in the party they are affiliated with; they shall not attend political party coordination platform meetings, with the exception of meetings required by the Constitution as representatives of the Legislature at conferences led by the president.

The DPP believes that the speaker's partisan role must be limited, and the speaker must be able to "fairly lead" the Legislature, Tsai told Central Standing Committee members.

Potential legislative speaker nominees will be expected to follow the requirements as well.

Legislature reform efforts led by the outgoing party caucus will be continued, Tsai said, ensuring a "systematic implementation of reforms," increasing public representation in the Legislature and ensuring a quality bureaucracy, and a professional as well as efficient Legislature.

According to Ruan, the DPP proposed five points in its policy platform for political reform during the presidential and legislative elections campaign.

Among the five, legislative reforms include changes to the Legislature's structure, electoral system and size, legislative authority and transparency, as well as the nomination of a neutral speaker.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, a prospective speakership candidate according to DPP members and local media, reiterated his respect for the president-elect's decision, as well as the discussion among party members, in response to media rumours of a possible unofficial vote to decide on the party's candidates for speaker and deputy speaker.

"If a consensus cannot be reached, an unofficial vote will be held," Ker said, though he emphasised that party unity was more important than the voting method.

Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), a former magistrate of Chiayi County and another leading candidate for speaker, also placed confidence in the party's leading body to negotiate and select candidates to lead the Legislature.

Unfazed by China and Ma

Addressing President Ma Ying-jeou's hopes about the majority party forming the Cabinet, which he proposed during his phone call to congratulate Tsai on her win on Election Day, Tsai reiterated that it was a "constitutional controversy" with "no room for discussion."

Government transition matters could be discussed, if needed, once DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu returns or his current representative Lin Hsi-yao takes responsibility for discussions, Tsai said.

The president-elect was also unperturbed by media questions about the mainland Chinese authorities exerting more pressure on her to uphold the "1992 Consensus."

"I believe both sides are currently dealing with it quite well," Tsai said, but stated that the party will "carefully" manage concerns.

She also did not reply to questions regarding whether she would ask People First Party Chairman James Soong to be premier, a suggestion made by former Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Chin-jun.

Nor did Tsai reveal her potential candidates for the premiership.

Her responses were made prior to the Central Standing Committee meeting in her first public appearance with Vice President-elect Chen Chien-jen since Election Day.

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