國大自行延任 撩動憲政風波

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1999 / 10月

文‧林奇伯


九月上旬,國民代表大會通過備受爭議的「延任案」,國內輿論一片譁然,對主導此次修憲的朝野國代大加韃伐,認為國大不顧民意、不尊重民主憲政體制,以修憲「自肥」,而朝野各黨也對此次國大的修憲結果不以為然,力挺延任案過關的國大議長蘇南成,隨即遭到國民黨開除黨紀的處分。這次修憲過程到底有何爭議?有何影響?紛爭將如何解決?會留下什麼後遺症?


九月五日清晨四點,國民大會三讀通過包括國代延任在內的修憲案,由國、民兩黨國代的聯手支持,配合國大議長蘇南成強勢主導議事,以無記名投票方式闖關。之前國、民兩大黨封殺國代延任案的政策宣示,國代顯然充耳未聞。

依據國民大會所通過的延任案,原定明年三月十八日與總統選舉一併舉行之國代選舉將停辦,配合立委改選,本屆國代任期延長至第四屆立委任滿之日,即民國九十一年六月底,而國代總額也將從第四屆起改為三百人,第五屆減半為一百五十人,產生方式以立委各黨派候選人得票比例分配當選名額。

民進黨國大黨團總召集人陳金德指出,民進黨廢國大、單一國會的主張有現實上的困難,才提出凍結國大選舉,改採完全政黨比例制的修正案,配套國代延任只是「必要之惡」。

國民黨國代則義正辭嚴強調,延任是為了完成修憲任務,議長蘇南成則說他並未強力主導議事,只是按照議事程序進行。而傳言卻有指總統府高層事先知道並支持國代延任,對於這樣的傳言,國民黨秘書長章孝嚴與總統府秘書室主任蘇志誠都嚴正否認,指出李登輝總統從頭至尾反對國大延任的態度與立場都十分明確。

延任案讓國代延任至民國九十一年六月,較原任期延長二年多,外界遂質疑國代「自肥」;另外,雖然民進黨提出廢國大、單一國會法目標明確,但因違反民主憲政體制程序正義的原則,也受到輿論的強烈批評。

一般咸認,外界對國代自肥的批評確實將影響明年三月的總統大選選情,所以各黨參選人也紛紛表達對國大延任反對的立場。

副總統連戰指責國代沒有真正了解民意,這個修正案與國民黨規劃預期的方案完全不同,他非常遺憾。民進黨總統提名人陳水扁則指出,未來能否藉國代選舉改採全額政黨比例制凍結國代選舉,逐步達成國會改革的理想與目標,有待進一步的觀察,全民應一起監督。另外,新黨提名人李敖、脫黨參選的宋楚瑜、許信良也表達了反對與遺憾的立場。

國、民兩黨國代為了自清,紛紛發動連署,表示從明年原定任期屆滿後,停止支領薪資,並且支持任何順應民意的補救措施。但輿論也提出,國代本屬無給職,根本沒有薪資,所領各項費用為助理與工作津貼,所以需以書面提出自何時起至何時止,拒領哪項費用,才有實質意義。

在延任案上表達反對立場、並放棄投票的新黨國代黨團,在九月七日召開的會議中,除少數宣示將辭去國代職務的代表外,大多傾向於不在明年五月後辭去現職,並認為應繼續支領費用以維持運作。

由於民意的反彈聲浪升高,兩黨中央均考慮祭出黨紀,處罰此次未理會黨意強行通過延任案的國代,國民黨考紀會就在九月七號全員通過的情況下,迅速決定對國大議長蘇南成處以「開除黨籍」最嚴厲的處分,由於蘇南成為不分區國代,開除黨紀也使他同時失去國代與國大議長的職務。

蘇南成說,他並沒有主導延任案,議事必須維持程序正義,國民黨中央授意不要交付二、三讀,形同要他「作弊」,他做不來,交付表決時,國民黨國代可以不投延任案的贊成票,要他一人承擔後果實在說不過去。

處罰雖重,僅及於個人,國大延任事實已造成,因此國民黨內包括連戰、馬英九在內等人,主張聲請大法官釋憲善後;民進黨則提出公投廢國大的主張,建議召開國大臨時會,將修憲公投入憲;新黨的解決方案是由立法院提出凍結國大修憲案,由國大召開臨時會複決。

一場攸關國家憲政體制與傳統的風波該如何平息,全民正屏息以待,而不管會如何解決,明年三月的總統大選,選民將以選票檢驗各政黨領導人的智慧。

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國大延任案通過之後,民情激憤。圖為新黨所發動反國大延任、自肥大遊行。(薛繼光攝)

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EN

National Assembly Sparks Constitutional Crisis

Eric Lin /tr. by Mark Caltonhill

In early September, the National Assem-bly passed a contentious amendment to extend its term of office. Public opinion arose en masse, heavily criticizing those assembly members of the KMT and DPP who took leading roles in this constitutional amendment. People felt that the National Assembly was disregarding public will and not respecting the system of democratic constitutional government, and that the deputies were using constitutional reform for their own personal gain. The headquarters of all parties, both in government and opposition, criticized their own deputies. Su Nan-cheng, speaker of the assembly, who supported the pushing through of the term extension, immediately fell victim to KMT discipline and was expelled from the party. What exactly are the arguments behind this constitutional reform?


At four o'clock on the morning of September 5th, the National Assembly passed the third reading of an amendment which included a provision to extend the terms of office for assembly members. Both the KMT and DPP headquarters had publicly declared that their policy was to kill this amendment. Nevertheless, assembly members of both parties evidently turned a deaf ear, uniting to support the strongly voiced leadership of Assembly Speaker Su Nan-cheng, pushing through the amendment to extend members' terms by secret ballot.

The amendment passed by the National Assembly suspended the assembly's election originally set to coincide with the presidential elections on March 18th next year. By tying it to the Legislative Yuan election, the current term of office of national assembly members is extended until the end of the Legislative Yuan's fourth session, that is, the end of June 2002. The amendment also includes provisions that will lower the total number of assembly members in the fourth term to 300, and to 150 for the fifth term, and that change future National Assembly elections to a system of proportional representation in which seats will be allotted to each political party on the basis of the ratio of votes garnered.

Explaining why DPP deputies went against party policy, DPP caucus convenor Chen Chin-der pointed out that his party's policy of abolishing the National Assembly had run into a practical difficulty-the DPP does not have a majority in the assembly. The DPP deputies argue that after the proportional representation system is put into place, the parties will be able to fully control their assembly members and can order the assembly to abolish itself. But the DPP deputies needed the support of the KMT deputies to achieve proportional representation, so they agreed in turn to support the KMT deputies' desire for a term extension. Thus, says Chen, extending the term of office of the current assembly members is a necessary evil.

KMT assembly members claimed that the extension of their term is necessary in order to complete the work of amending the constitution. Assembly Speaker Su Nan-cheng said he did not take a leading role in the discussions, but merely ensured that the assembly's business was enacted in accordance with due process. There are rumors that upper echelons of the Office of the President knew in advance and supported the assembly members' term extension. However, Chang Hsiao-yen, General-Secretary of the KMT, and Su Chih-cheng, director of the secretariat of the Office of the President, both vehemently deny these rumors, pointing out that President Lee Teng-hui's consistent stand against the extension has been completely unequivocal.

The amendment to extend terms of office will allow assembly members to continue their appointments for more than two extra years beyond their original term. This raises serious suspicions among the public that the assemblymen were acting in their own interests. Although it is clear that the DPP deputies only voted for the term extensions because it serves their long-term goal of abolishing the National Assembly, they have also received intense public criticism because their vote went against public and party leaders' opinions, thus contravening the principles of democratic government.

Given that most people think that public disgust with the assembly members' self-interested behavior will certainly influence next March's presidential election, presidential candidates from all parties rushed to express their opposition to the term extension.

Lien Chan of the KMT accused National Assembly members of not truly understanding the public will, said that this amendment was completely different from the KMT's own plans, and expressed deep regret. DPP nominee Chen Shui-bian pointed out that in the future, it may or may not be possible to use the proportionally representative National Assembly to eliminate that body. Gradual accomplishment of the ideals and objectives of reforming the National Assembly will await further observation and require the collective supervision of the whole nation. The other candidates, New Party nominee Li Ao, KMT exile James Soong, and Hsu Hsin-liang, all expressed standpoints of opposition and regret.

In order to clarify their positions, many KMT and DPP assembly members have said that after the completion of their original terms next year, they will cease collecting all or some of the money that an assembly member is entitled to receive and will support whatever remedial measures are necessary to accommodate public desires. Knowing that being an assembly member is an honorary position with no salary but only expenses and allowances for assistants and workers, some sceptics suggest that only a written statement outlining which monies will not be collected, and over what period, will have any substantial meaning.

The New Party caucus expressed its opposition to the term extension and its assembly members abstained in the vote. As of September 7th, except for a minority who announced they would resign their posts as assembly members, the majority of New Party assembly deputies were inclined not to resign their present posts after May next year (the original term deadline), but felt they ought to continue their work (they also decided to continue to accept their subsidy payments, arguing that they would be unable to function without them).

In response to resounding public criticism, the central offices of the main parties whose assembly members joined ranks to amend the constitution are both considering invoking party discipline to punish those members who did not heed party wishes but forced through the amendment on extended terms. The KMT disciplinary committee on September 7th quickly and unanimously passed the most severe penalty of party expulsion on National Assembly Speaker Su Nan-cheng. As Su is an appointed, rather than elected, assembly member, expulsion from the party means that he simultaneously loses the post of assembly speaker and of assembly member.

Su Nan-cheng says that he did not lead the term-extension amendment, but that his official duties require that he ensure that the assembly's business be enacted in accordance with correct procedures. The KMT central office wanted him to engage in what he called malpractice and he said he would not consent. After all, it was not necessary for KMT assembly members to cast affirmative votes for term-extension, so singling him out to shoulder responsibility for the outcome is really going too far.

Although this was a heavy punishment, it only affected one individual. In practice, the National Assembly term extension has already been enacted. In light of this, the KMT advocates requesting the Council of Grand Justices to make a final interpretation on the constitutional issues arising from this problem. The DPP advocates holding a national referendum on the issue of abolishing the National Assembly, and proposes convening a provisional session of the assembly to enact the constitutional changes allowing for referenda. The New Party's solution is to allow the Legislative Yuan to block the National Assembly's constitutional amendment, and then convene a provisional session of the assembly to make a final decision.

The whole country anxiously waits to see how this controversy regarding constitutional government and traditions might be calmed. However it is resolved, the electorate will use their votes in next March's presidential elections to examine the wisdom of the leaders of the different parties.

p.21

Citizens were outraged by the National Assembly decision to extend its own term. The photo shows a march organized by the New Party. (photo by Hsueh Chi-kuang)

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