Thu, Nov 13, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: A rendezvous with history is set

During a meeting with American friends from the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that he hoped to hold a referendum on Dec. 10, 2006 to enact a new constitution, so that the president who takes office in 2008 can implement it. This was the first time Chen clearly said that he would push for a new constitution, not just amendments to the existing one. It was also the first time he has given a timetable for the process.

Chen chose Dec. 10 because it is International Human Rights Day. There is great significance behind choosing that day as the starting date. The designation of an International Human Rights Day was a major milestone in the history of political evolution. It was an indication of the transition from "God-given imperial power" to "God-given human rights." Humanity's political thinking has evolved into referendums commonly accepted by civilized


Starting the democratic engineering project of creating a constitution on International Human Rights Day is in the spirit of the UN's human-rights efforts. It has the effect of strengthening democratic values and inspiring people living in authoritarian nations such as China. It is an act that deserves the support and blessing of all countries around the world that support democratic values.

By setting a date, Chen has indicated that the referendum legislation, an issue that the blue and green camps have been wrangling over, must be concluded before that time. The legislation will serve as a legal basis for referendums. Since the people want to promote a new constitution by way of a referendum, this legislation must not be the "bird-cage" version proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) - People First Party (PFP) alliance. The people must act to prevent the emergence of a referendum law that would actually restrict their freedoms, of legislation that would be a remake of martial law.

The people of Taiwan need to be on alert about the blue camp's attempts to use the referendum legislation to toady to China and restrict the people's power.

The current Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC)was never really implemented. It was enacted for China in 1947. When former president Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) regime fled to Taiwan, he froze the Constitution and replaced it with the "Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion." Those provisions were not abolished until 1991.

The Constitution remains anachronistic even though it was amended six times during former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) 12 years in power. Its framework still does not reflect Taiwan's status and the people's wishes. At a time when the feudalistic atmosphere of the exiled KMT regime was still strong, Lee could only pushed for small-scale changes in order to pave the way for his political reforms.

This Constitution is just as ridiculous as the "map of the ROC" that includes the PRC and the Republic of Mongolia.

Exiled Chinese dissident Cao Chang-qing (曹長青) said recently that he was shocked to seek the ROC map displayed in the Government Information Office during his first visit to Taiwan. He asked then GIO chief Chang King-yuh (張京育), "Taiwan is not a UN member. How come it has incorporated two UN members in its territory?"

The people want to know why such anachronisms as outdated maps and irrelevant constitutions still exist as well. They should insist that these anachronisms be eliminated.

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