Wed, Feb 02, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Hsieh's plan to forge a consensus needs limits

By Kuo Chang-feng郭長豐

Last Wednesday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) appointed Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) premier amid high expectations from the public. Hsieh later gave interviews to talk about his ideas for the administration. I didn't agree with his comments on issues such as rectification of the national title and the "one China" principle.

Hsieh said the Executive Yuan will not push ahead with issues on which society has yet to reach a consensus. He further argued that, as to the movement to "rectify the name of Taiwan," consensus should first be established within society. If only 30 percent of the nation's population supported the idea, this would not become government policy.

There is nothing wrong with this. A cause that only garners 30 percent of the public's support can be regarded as a social movement rather than a consensus. Do we have to win over everybody and gain 100 percent support to constitute a consensus?

In recent years the nation has seen an upsurge of Taiwan consciousness, culminating in the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally on Feb. 28 last year [organized by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝)], in which more than 1 million people participated. The rally was so influential that the China-leaning pan-blue camp unexpectedly failed to unseat Chen. Chen's success in winning a second term has given the movement to rectify the country's name a further boost.

We wonder what evidence Hsieh can present to prove that only 30 percent of the population are in favor of changing the country's name. Did the Cabinet's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission or the pro-unification media outlets provide Hsieh with the statistic? As Taiwan is a highly democratized society, if evidence is lacking for a statement, we can resort to a referendum to assess popular support for an issue.

Although it may be inappropriate to ask private schools and enterprises whose names include "China" or "Chinese" to change their names, there is no reason why the government shouldn't adopt a gradual approach to changing the names of government agencies, state-owned enterprises and public schools.

Hsieh emphasized that, prior to any constitutional amendment, the Executive Yuan has to comply with the Constitution, and that the Constitution supports a "one China" interpretation. In theory, it is perfectly justifiable for the ruling party to obey the Constitution. However, Taiwan is not a normal country and different political parties interpret differently whether or not Taiwan is included in the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC).

In additional, the whole world recognizes "one China" as referring to the statement that there is but one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China, and that the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legitimate government representing China. This is why the DPP often gives an evasive reply on the issue to avoid controversy, and why Chen has been unwilling to recognize the "one China" principle.

I am not opposed to Hsieh's insistence on obeying the Constitution, but he must not include the "one China" framework in the Constitution. He will not only be going against mainstream public opinion if he does so, he will also be falling into the trap orchestrated by the pro-unification media. If he continues to insist on his stance, he may wipe out all the DPP's political achievements.

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