Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: The Constitution is paramount

By Lee Long-hwa

With the indictment of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), commentators, pundits, opponents and supporters have all waded in with suggestions about remedies in the long and short term.

With all the hoopla, it is necessary to take a deep breath and take stock of some important issues.

First and foremost, irrespective of Chen's guilt or innocence, and irrespective of the first lady's, the paramount consideration is the continuity of government, the constitution and justice. This lies above all else -- above knee-jerk reactions, disappointment, partisanship, greed, lust for power and predation.

But I am not writing for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) faithful, for there is nothing I can say that will stay their hand against the president, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or against the Republic of Taiwan.

My comments are instead directed at the frightening plethora of silly suggestions made by those who support Taiwan and who propose a short term solution to the "problem."

To begin with, there is no problem with the presidency or with the structure of the presidency.

Suggestions that A-bian take some sort of temporary leave, cede power to someone else, take a vacation (permanent or otherwise) or in some other manner alter his presidential powers are all childish ruminations of people who apparently do not understand the sanctity of the law and the constitution.

These are not things to be trifled with, changed on a whim or revised every few years.

Although the US Constitution has been amended more than 25 times in 200 years, those amendments have not changed the functionality of the government nor the powers of the respective branches, save impose a limit on the number of terms for the presidency. One of the reasons the US has risen to prominence in global affairs is the constancy of its democracy and constitution, the stability of its government, the relentless pursuit of justice and fairness and the independence of the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

With its checks and balances and its independent judiciary summoned by the founding fathers to preserve and protect the constitution -- representing a system of laws which ensures the rights of all Americans -- the US government is, and remains, a stable engine which changes its oil every four years.

Presidents have resigned, been murdered and have died. But the US has continued because of its system of independent laws.

There is not one word in the Constitution that requires A-bian to step down as president.

This is a question of constitutional law above all else. To suggest that the system of government should be modified in whatever way, as has been suggested by pundits and "experts," bespeaks an infantile understanding of constitutional law.

The Constitution is simply not something to ignore or tinker with for light and transient causes -- and although some people within the pan-blue camp would have everyone believe the world will end if A-bian does not step down, the issues Taiwan is facing today are indeed light and transient and in fact are defined as such in the Constitution by their exclusion as reasons for impeachment.

This is not to suggest that the charges against Chen are meaningless or trifling. Notwithstanding, the law remains sacrosanct and we should not be diverted from it.

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