Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Leading Taiwan toward normalcy

By the Liberty Times editorial

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) have officially taken office as the nation's 11th president and vice president. In his inaugural speech, "Paving the Way for a Sustainable Taiwan," Chen sketched the policy-implementation blueprint for the next four years and indicated the direction his policies on various major issues would take.

On the issues of constitutional reforms and cross-strait relationship -- about which there is much concern, both within the country and overseas -- Chen's remarks suggested compromises on his part to live up to expectations from all sides. Generally speaking, the inaugural speech accomplished the effect of being "safe and steady," especially after the pan-blue camp's mass protests and lawsuits seeking to declare the election null and void.

The relationship between the opposition and ruling camps has reached an all-time low and society as a whole is riddled with restless sentiment. The president's inaugural speech especially addressed this point, reminding people that "various ethnic groups, because of their disparate history and distinctive subcultures, understandably hold divergent views and values. Recognizing such inherent differences, we should embrace one another with more tolerance and understanding."

"Regardless of whether an individual identifies with Taiwan or with the Republic of China, a common destiny has bequeathed upon all of us the same parity and dignity. Let us therefore relinquish differentiations between `native' and `foreign' and between `minority' and `majority,' for the most complimentary and accurate depiction of present-day Taiwan is of a people `ethnically diverse, but one as a nation,'" Chen said.

He pointed out that unifying Taiwan, stabilizing the cross-strait relationship as well as domestic society, and having a prosperous economy are the heart-felt expectations of the people, and therefore the top priorities for the government's future policy implementation.

Regarding the issue of constitutional reform, Chen indicated that his reforms will be geared toward better management of the government, improved government efficiency, confirming the roots of the democratic rule of law, and sustainable governance and security of the country. On the substantive level, he plans to organize a Constitutional Reform Committee to identify common ground within society for the scope and procedures of the constitutional reforms, and to accommodate the monitoring of the public as well as commentators.

Chen emphasized that "the Republic of China now exists in Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. This is a fact. Taiwan's existence as a member of international society is also a fact. Such realities cannot be negated by anyone for any reason -- for therein lies the collective will of the people of Taiwan."

He said that if both sides are willing, on the basis of goodwill, to create an environment built upon "peaceful development and freedom of choice," then the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China -- or Taiwan and China -- "can seek to establish relations in any form they desire. We would not exclude any possibility, as long as the consent of Taiwan's 23 million people is gained."

Middle way

Chen also reiterated the promises and principles set forth in his inaugural speech in 2000. "Those commitments have been honored -- they have not changed over the past four years, nor will they change in the next four years," he said, adding that he would establish a Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development to draft the guidelines for cross-strait peace and development. These statements demonstrate his alignment toward the "middle way." The US, China and all camps within and outside of Taiwan should find them generally acceptable.

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