Mon, Apr 23, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Pragmatism is creating a ‘Taiwanese’ constitution

By Lin Kien-tsu 林健次

Describing himself as a “political worker for Taiwanese independence,” Premier William Lai (賴清德) has proposed three pragmatic tenets: Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation and does not need to declare independence; the nation’s 23 million people alone have the right to determine Taiwan’s future; and he is leading the administrative team to build up the nation, develop the economy and make Taiwan stronger.

He has also proposed six directives: safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty; protecting its freedom, democracy and human rights; developing the economy; safeguarding the public’s right to decide Taiwan’s future; having confidence in cross-strait relations; and maintaining peaceful cross-strait development.

Lai’s proclamation was obviously based on a consensus reached between his Cabinet and President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) team. The focus of the tenets lies in the second half of the first sentence: “Taiwan ... does not need to declare independence,” which is a response to the independence referendum proposed by the Formosa Alliance.

The six directives describe what any government over the land and people of Taiwan may and should do. Simply put, they are the wrapping and Tsai’s policy of maintaining the “status quo” is the content.

As a pragmatic Taiwanese independence advocate, Lai should first and foremost rectify the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration’s “non-pragmatic” policies. Under Tsai, Lai and his Cabinet must have seen that the Republic of China Constitution is both a sham and anachronistic, and that the rights and responsibilities of government bodies are ambiguous.

No independent country would obey a constitution stipulated by a foreign, colonialist exile regime. The first duty of a pragmatic Taiwanese independence advocate is therefore to write a constitution focused on the land and people of Taiwan.

Second, as Taiwan’s future can be decided by its 23 million people alone, writing a referendum act that allows them to determine their future is a pragmatic approach to implementing Taiwanese independence.

Third, joining the international community and striving for participation in international organizations under the nation’s real name — Taiwan — is the only pragmatic policy that will safeguard the interests of Taiwan — not China — and boost the nation’s economy.

Applying this pragmatic approach, Lai and his Cabinet should propose a referendum act that would allow Taiwanese to write a new constitution and determine the nation’s future; propose a draft Taiwanese constitution and push for a constitutional referendum; and forcefully encourage the development of diplomatic policy and policies for participation in international organizations under the name “Taiwan.”

The name and content of the Constitution is the source of every substantial problem in Taiwan. It is the elephant in the room, invisible only to the blind and those who pretend not to see.

The first duty of a pragmatic Taiwanese independence advocate in a position of power is to hold a constitutional referendum and join the international community as a legitimate country.

This pragmatic approach to Taiwanese independence differs slightly from that of the alliance, in that a constitutional referendum would replace the alliance’s proposed independence referendum.

If Lai or the DPP administration keep evading or even blocking a constitutional referendum and UN membership, then they are being hypocrites, not pragmatists, and as such they would be completely unconvincing and devoid of public appeal.

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