Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Let's put an end to all this mock governance

By Chen Yi-shen 陳儀深

PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-BIAN'S (陳水扁) inaugural speech in 2004 summarized contemporary relations between the US, China and Taiwan. But the speech avoided the issue of a constitutional amendment on independence by referendum in 2006, as Chen instead suggested constitutional reform within the system.

In October that year, then-US secretary of state Colin Powell visited Beijing and said in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV that "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation."

A month later, on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, the Taiwan Advocates think tank met at the Grand Hotel for an international symposium on Taiwan's Constitution, where former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) clearly challenged the Constitution and proposed constitutional reforms.

Unfortunately, this cooperation between pan-green groups fell out of step during the 2005 National Assembly elections. I wrote several articles regarding the coalition between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for constitutional amendment, but the situation was beyond the influence of a single person and the preposterous constitutional situation remained unchanged and only attracted attention after the recent legislative election.

Taiwan's international status is still in limbo. In addition to Powell's comment, Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asian Affairs at the US National Security Council, reiterated in a White House briefing on Aug. 29 that "Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community," leading to many interpretations in Taiwan.

I saw Ministry of Foreign Affairs files from 1971 that stated that US Department of State spokesman Charles Bray had commented during a press conference that the sovereign status of Taiwan and the Penghu islands remained undetermined.

As a historian, it is not difficult to see that the source of the problem lies in the handling of the post-war Treaty of Peace with Japan. This theory of indetermination continues to have a proactive side in that it denies Beijing's staunch assertion that Taiwan is part of China's territory.

However, there is the added difficulty from within: For KMT individuals like former chairman Lien Chan (連戰), the position of sovereignty is obviously more important to the Chinese Communist Party and further from the DPP.

In 2005, when Beijing passed its "Anti-Secession" Law, Lien and People First Party Chairman James Song (宋楚瑜) gladly visited China as though it were a long-lost friend, behavior that I strongly criticized.

Faced with a pan-blue majority legislature, Chen was unable to pass the special legislation needed to implement transitional justice as budget requirements were boycotted.

The so-called "green rule" produced some results, but on the whole, is exiting in the awkward position of a mock of a government.

Between 2004 and last year, I noted that as a limbo state with diametrically opposed political factions, the DPP can only be a mock simulation of a government, and that Chen abandoned the middle road due to personal crisis, thus losing the political high ground and leading the pro-localization camp down a narrow path of struggling for survival.

The former is due to political and historical factors, while the latter is the result of cultural and societal issues. To end this state of limbo and mock governance, the future president must discover apt solutions.

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