Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday that Taiwan needs a new Constitution drawn up by the country's 23 million people in order to strengthen the people's recognition of their country.
"The Executive Yuan and the legislature should restore to the people the right to exercise initiative and referendums so that direct democracy can materialize in our country," Lee said.
Lee's remarks came at the launch of a book by Taiwan Advocates (群策會), a private think tank, called Taiwan's Agenda in the 21st Century (台灣二十一世紀國家總目標).
In his opening speech at the press conference, Lee suggested directions Taiwan should take on four issues: national recognition, education, defense and economy.
"The priority of Taiwan's agenda in the 21st century is to establish the people's recognition of the country. The practical approach to achieve the goal is to let Taiwanese people make their own Constitution," Lee said.
"If our people cannot recognize Taiwan as their country, it is useless for the government to design any plans for the future," he said.
It is too difficult to amend the 56-year-old Constitution because it requires the consent of three-quarters of the legislature, he said.
"Moreover, the past six amendments to the Constitution did not make it more effective or enduring," he said.
The Constitution was promulgated by the KMT in Nanking on Jan. 1, 1947, and came into effect the same year.
Lee asked the media to stop deceiving the public and to play a positive role in society.
Lee blasted the media, most of which have been hostile toward him, as "narrow-minded and arrogant."
The media should no longer "observe the world with a Taipei perspective," he said, adding that the media have been ignoring the country's successes and international situation.
"We need to think about how to stop the media from deceiving the public. The media have become machines to spread ideologies," Lee said.
Meanwhile, Lee asked the government to adjust its approach to education reform.
"The ongoing education reform has confounded teachers, students and parents," Lee said. "Besides, schools should be the places to develop students' recognition of Taiwan as their country."
On defense, Lee said it was not enough for Taiwan to prepare ways to defend against a Chinese invasion.
"Taiwan needs to be alert to China's psychological warfare. We must build up our ability to attack so that if China invades, we will be able to fight back," Lee said.
Taiwan also has to understand global trends so as to establish its role in the international arena through governmental and non-governmental organizations, Lee said.
As for how to improve the economy, Lee said Taiwan should focus on developing a sustainable economy.
"A sustainable economy has never existed in Taiwan. We need to create a knowledge-based economy in order to be more competitive," Lee said.
Taiwan has to establish low-pollution industries that produce high-value-added products, Lee said.
Lee, president of Taiwan Advocates, established the think tank in December 2001, saying the aim of the group was to "promote integration in a multi-cultural society."
The 119-page Taiwan's Agenda in the 21st Century, written by the Taiwan Advocates' research team, is the second book published by the group since its establishment.
The book is divided into 10 chapters and covers issues on Taiwan's national recognition, China's threat, Taiwan's national defense, foreign policy, economic development, ecology, technology, education, media and democracy.