Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: `Taiwan Consciousness' here to stay

After the March 20 presidential election, many of the nation's political commentators suddenly discovered that growing "Taiwan consciousness" -- first promoted by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) when he came to power in 1988 -- has finally become a strong mainstream opinion. It even helped President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who comes from a poor farming family, defeat the alliance of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who represent a "greater China consciousness."

After nearly 50 years of autocratic rule by the KMT government, the Taiwanese people certainly hoped that the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) government would correct many wrongs when it assumed power in 2000. The public is particularly concerned about the existence or abolition of the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC).

In light of the current development of the nation's constitutional democracy, it's time to significantly amend the "ROC" Constitution, which was completely unrelated to Taiwan during the process of its establishment. After the regime of the late president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) brought the Constitution to Taiwan from China, he froze it through a number of temporary statutes. Later, the late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) did not make any amendment either. Lee started to change the Constitution in 1991, and completed six amendments before his retirement, as if he was putting patches on a ragged cloth.

But as every Taiwanese knows, the Constitution divides the state into five separate powers. In addition to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Yuan, it allows the Examination and Control Yuans to waste public funds, since their functions are very limited. If, therefore, Taiwan wants to emulate advanced democratic countries and set up a state with three separate powers, the Constitution must be amended or a new constitution written.

In addition, the Constitution does not clearly define the scope of the nation's territory. Some people therefore believe it to be enormous, encompassing the People's Republic of China and Mongolia, while others claim that it only includes Taiwan island, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. There are numerous preposterous interpretations of what constitutes the country's territory. Lawmakers with different political outlooks often quarrel in the legislature -- and sometimes even come to blows. This behavior has gained international notoriety and seriously hampers legislative efficiency.

There is also the question of whether the number of legislative seats should be halved and electoral districts redrawn. Unless authorities such as the National Unification Council (國統會), the Taiwan Provincial Government and the Fukien Provincial Government are quickly abolished, the nation will not be doing right by taxpayers and their hard-earned money.

We have pointed out these examples to show that in this country the public will is paramount, and that any party wishing to rule cannot turn their back on the people's "Taiwan consciousness." The arguments presented about these issues by Lien and Soong have been insubstantial and weak. They seem more concerned with Beijing's attitude than with the sentiments of the people. It is this attitude that planted the seeds of their electoral defeat.

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