Mon, Mar 07, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Chen has his work cut out for him

By Chiou Chwei-liang 邱垂亮

Under the intense gaze of the Taiwanese people, the meeting between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) produced a 10-point consensus and a joint statement. In addition to reiterating the "four noes and one not," Chen also said that, at the present time, the ROC is the common denominator for Taiwan [and China]. He will not push for a change to the national title because he believes there is no national consensus on the issue.

Also, the legislature is controlled by the opposition, and believing that a name change could be passed would be to cheat both oneself and others. The language was clear, and Chen's compromise and retreat could be seen in his statements and actions, which amounted to accepting Soong's "one China" framework and pro-unification stance.

The immediate response from pro-independence Taiwanese both in Taiwan and abroad who think that the national title should be changed and a new constitution written was surprise and protest followed by public anger and attacks. Chen was taken aback.

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said Chen had been taken by the demon he wanted to gain control of, that he lost his presidential stature by issuing a joint statement with Soong and that any comparison with his appointment of General Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) as premier was "crazy."

Senior presidential adviser Koo Kuang-ming (辜寬敏) resigned from his post in protest. National Policy Adviser and Chairman of World United Formosans for Independence Ng Chiau-tong (黃昭堂) said the consensus was nonsense. He said independence supporters had now been cheated by Chen three times, and that they would follow their own road from this point forward to avoid being cheated again.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) issued a statement criticizing Chen for abandoning nation-building for the sake of reconciliation, saying it amounted to admitting defeat. TSU legislative caucus whip Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) said that "the joint statement means capitulating to the unificationists and giving into the `one China' concept." The party's Secretary-General Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) said he felt "deceived," and that Chen is "a president who goes back on his promises."

Huang Chao-hung (黃昭弘), an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, said that Chen offered Soong his sincerity in the form of a calligraphy painting, and wondered whether Chen "is sincere toward the people of Taiwan." But the best assessment came from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), when he said that "I even thought it was a KMT announcement.

The departure of stalwarts of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and other prominent figures has been a sharp warning to Chen and had a huge impact on the DPP. It has become a major problem, but these people are all intelligent political leaders who understand the overall picture.

If Chen patiently and sincerely explains his actions, there should still be a chance to save the situation. The heart of the problem is that -- ?beginning with the 228 Incident, through the "white terror" period and the tang wai movement, to the DPP's and Chen's accession to power -- the people of Taiwan have moved from a minority to a majority position politically, and from distrust and doubt to belief in and protection of Taiwan. They have come to understand, accept and support the idea that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country, that the national title should be changed, and that a new constitution should be written.

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