Mon, Feb 27, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Would Ma allow vote on nation's future?

By Tsai Huang-liang 蔡煌瑯

During Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) tour of Europe, the KMT placed an advertisement in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper), stating that, "The Chinese Nationalist Party firmly believes that, in keeping with the spirit of democracy, there are many options for Taiwan's future, be it reunification, independence or the status quo. It is necessary that the choice be made by the people."

Some people feel that this declaration follows the spirit of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Resolution on Taiwan's Future. The resolution also declares that Taiwan's future shall be decided by the people of Taiwan, with the only difference being the ultimate goal.

This comparison oversimplifies the fundamental differences between the KMT's and the DPP's approach to the future of Taiwan and their definitions of democracy. It also ignores an issue even more crucial than the Taiwan independence option, namely, how to implement a democratic mechanism that respects the public's decision.

The Resolution on Taiwan's Future was passed by the DPP's National Congress on May 8, 1999. It advocates the idea that Taiwan's national sovereignty rests with the nation's citizens, that it is a fully sovereign nation with the national title of the Republic of China and it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China.

In contrast to this, Ma has not clearly said whether the people he talks about are the 23 million people of Taiwan, or if he includes the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The latter violates the first principle of democracy.

There is also the issue of the mechanism used to allow the public to decide. Should Taiwan's future be decided by the members of the National Assembly as in the past, by a unification or independence government through a presidential election, or in a referendum? There must be a clear direction. The DPP's longstanding position has been to let the people decide the future of Taiwan -- in other words, to implement a referendum on sovereignty.

Ma obviously has no clear stance on this issue. Ma should declare his position on the question of whether he thinks that the people of Taiwan should be allowed to decide their own future in a referendum.

Prior to the public's making a decision, all options should be open and there should be no biases or conditions. In other words, there is no legitimate basis for the existence of the National Unification Council and the National Unification Guidelines, and this is also one of the main reasons why the DPP advocates their abolishment. Ma, however, still opposes their abolition in clear violation of his own declaration that the public's decision will be respected.

Finally, all groups must accept the results of a democratic and public decision. According to the DPP's charter and the Resolution on Taiwan's Future, any decision made by the people of Taiwan in accordance with their own free will in a referendum will be accepted by the party. The question is whether the KMT would accept a public decision in favor of Taiwan's independence or give in to China's missile threat.

We have still not been given a clear answer to this question.

Simply put, the question of how to let the people of Taiwan decide the nation's future in an unbiased manner and through a referendum may be more important than accepting Taiwanese independence as an option, and it may also be the question in more urgent need of a response from Ma.

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