Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 8 News List

New constitution is badly needed

By David Huang 黃適卓

In an interview with the Washington Post on Oct. 8, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that "Taiwan is an independent, sovereign country," but "the 23 million people of Taiwan do not have a constitution that genuinely belongs to them." He also said that "as the leader of this country, I have a duty, responsibility, and a strong sense of mission" to push for a new constitution that truly fits the people of Taiwan.

Indeed, the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC) currently implemented in Taiwan does not belong to Taiwanese people. This Constitution was formulated on the basis of China and the Chinese people. In terms of international law, the San Francisco Peace Treaty, in which Japan renounced its claim over "Formosa and the Pescadores," did not stipulate that Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to China. Since Taiwan is not part of China and since the ROC does not own Taiwan's sovereignty, the ROC Constitution certainly does not belong to Taiwanese people.

Although the ROC Constitution has been imposed on Taiwan and a prototype of Taiwanese democracy has been based on it, it was not tailor-made for Taiwan and its people. Like an adult's outfit put on a kid, it could not fit the child even after alterations. We need a new one. Now is the time for Taiwan to create a constitution to fit the needs of its 23 million people.

In addition, the creation of a constitution can prevent Taiwan from falling into China's trap. If Taiwan still holds onto the ROC Constitution, which claims that Taiwan is part of China, then this is no different from digging its own grave and jumping into the "one China" negotiation trap set up by China. This is definitely not something we want to see.

In fact, only the "one country on each side [of the Taiwan Strait]" platform fits in with Taiwan's optimum benefits in cross-strait negotiations. In his recently published book entitled Ten Sentences that Influenced Taiwan (十句話影響台灣), Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) quoted a declassified telegraph from 1971 which revealed that vice foreign minister Yang Hsi-kun (楊西崑) and ambassador to the US George Yeh (葉公超) told then president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) that the Taiwan government should completely separate itself from, and severe its links with, the People's Republic of China (PRC) government so that Taiwan will not be annexed by the PRC.

Obviously, only by separating itself from China will Taiwan gain its optimum benefits. The ROC Constitution established on the basis of "one China" should have been scrapped long ago.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has previously served as foreign minister, premier and vice president, but rather than emulating the wise people of the past, he has acted against his conscience to proclaim that Taiwan is part of the ROC's territory and that Taiwan should amend, rather than rewrite, its constitution so that he can snatch the presidency. He has audaciously attempted to force Taiwan into a disadvantageous position in cross-strait relations, sacrificing the benefits to which the people of Taiwan and Taiwanese businesspeople in China are entitled.

Through integration following the two world wars, Taiwanese people have transformed into what former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) called "the new Taiwanese people." A "contract" ought to be signed between them to show their identity with this land. This contract will be Taiwan's new constitution. No matter what content will be stipulated in the constitution, it will be jointly decided by the 23 million people, rather than being forced onto us by 1.2 billion Chinese people. It will be a "new contract" for the "new Taiwanese people."

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