At the Democratic Progressive Party's 17th anniversary celebrations on Sunday, party chairman and President Chen Shui-bian (
In terms of constitutional history, the Constitution of the Republic of China is a special example. Legally, it has been in effect for more than half a century -- it was promulgated on Jan. 1, 1947. Strictly speaking, however, it has never really been put into effect. Written for 500 million people (China's population at the time), it has long been foisted upon Taiwan's population of 23 million. This absurd incompatibility with reality is recognized by the public, but whether to amend the Constitution or simply write a new one has been a source of dispute between political parties.
For a long time, the DPP has had internal disagreements over these two approaches. There has always been a powerful force within the party calling for a new Constitution. Former party chairmen Huang Erh-hsuan (
In 1997, then party chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (
Even though the amendments resolved some of the problems facing democratization, they could not resolve the fundamental problem -- the Constitution simply does not fit Taiwan.
Chen's announcement on Sunday will revive calls within the DPP for a new Constitution. Chen has political considerations in making the proposal. First of all, Chen can absorb the pro-independence forces and set a political goal over and above Lee's and the Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) platform calling for a name change. He can then regain a leadership position of pro-independence forces. Next, he can deepen the theme of next year's presidential campaign -- a showdown between "one China" and "one country on each side." Third, he can provoke China into making some inappropriate response -- perhaps a repeat of the 1996 missile crisis or former premier Zhu Rongji's (朱鎔基) threats on the eve of the 2000 election.
Of course, Chen is also taking a major risk by proposing a new Constitution. By accusing Chen of pushing for independence, the opposition camp may arouse fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Such attempts to spark fear in the public, however, did not succeed in 1996 and 2000. Whether they will succeed this time by causing middle-of-the-road voters to dump the green camp and vote blue remains to be seen.
Given that the Constitution remains problematic after six amendments, it is reasonable to write a new Constitution to solve the problems once and for all. It's only that, with its disadvantaged position in the legislature, the DPP has difficulty pushing for a referendum law, not to mention a new Constitution. Chen has spelled out the ultimate goal of Taiwan's democratization, but more effort will be needed to achieve it.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation