Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Conditions must be set for a new constitution

By Shih Cheng-feng 施正鋒

In this past legislative election, to clearly draw a line between the pan-green and pan-blue camp and to persuade moderate and undecided voters, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) made a pledge to enact a new constitution. He even established a timetable for achieving it.

In contrast to the pan-blue stance of amending the constitution and former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) call to write a new constitution, Chen has been consistent in trying to find a "new middle way," which means a "large-scale amendment to the Constitution is tantamount to enacting a new constitution." This is an attempt to gain the support of "light blue," localized voters without endangering his pro-independence support.

There is no consensus in political discourse as to whether democratization requires the enactment of a new constitution. In the post-communist era, more than twenty countries in Europe and Asia, excluding Russia and Yugoslavia, have all enacted a new constitution. They wanted to seize the fleeting and crucial moment to set up a constitution to show their determination to reform. The political structures of authoritarian rule were an impediment to democratization.

If we look at the constitutional reforms conducted by Lee throughout his tenure in office, we see that the transfer of power between political parties was the primary focal point of his reforms. This included the establishment of the wholly-elected legislature and the direct election of the president.

This was achieved without actually altering the government's structure under the Constitution. Although the changes were incremental, compromises in the face of political realities and political power struggles were often unavoidable.

Back then the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) faction in the legislature only sought to share political power as an opposition party and had no long-term policy for managing the country. So current attempts to operate under the Constitution as amended in 1997 only create an endless series of problems.

For the Constitution to truly belong to the 23 million people of this nation, it must meet two conditions: It has to be created with our own hands and it has to be tailored to our needs. The former is a symbolic proclamation to the world and the latter is necessary for greater political integration domestically. They both show the legitimacy and necessity of enacting a new Taiwan constitution.

Based on the principle of self-determination, everyone is free to decide one's own fate politically, economically, socially, and culturally. The current system of the country was grafted onto Taiwan by the regime of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) without the consent of the people.

Although the DPP government is trying to work within the administrative system of the Republic of China (ROC), the nature of the system remains unchanged. Enacting a new constitution displays determination, shows that we want to have a country of our own, and that we will utilize the redefinition of a country to confirm the sovereignty of Taiwan.

When the US questioned Chen on his "four noes" policy, Chen replied that Taiwan is currently like "a child wearing a grown man's clothes." He was referring to the fact that the Constitution is already an outdated and unsuitable one for Taiwan since it was established for the vast population of China.

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