Sun, Oct 05, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lee, Chen make firm commitment to Constitution

MARCH ON Comparing himself to Moses and his successor to Joshua, Lee Teng-hui said that the Taiwanese must struggle to build their own nation

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian leads former president Lee Teng-hui by the hand as the enter the stage during the first day of the four-day 2003 World Association of Taiwanese Christian Churches conference yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday joined together to participate in the 2003 World Association of Taiwanese Christian Churches conference to pray for turning the nation into a "normal and complete" state.

Chen yesterday reiterated the importance of pushing for a new constitution, urging the public to decide the issue through a referendum.

"Although Taiwan is an independent, sovereign country, it has long been neglected by the international community. We are prevented from entering the UN, denied membership in the World Health Organization and constantly face the threat of a missile attack from China."

"Promoting a new constitution and letting the people ratify it through a referendum is a necessary act to transform Taiwan into a normal, great country. We hope that by writing a new constitution, we can deepen the democratization of our constitutional system," Chen said yesterday to a crowd of more than 3,000 participants at the Christian assembly.

Chen said the entire population should take part in creating a new constitution, and no individual or political party could achieve it alone.

"This undertaking requires all 23 million people in Taiwan, who must togethert act like a midwife and assist in the birth of the new constitution. I believe that God granted the people of Taiwan the right of self-determination, the right for people to exercise their free will in deciding the future of our country," Chen said.

Chen and Lee were invited by the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan to address the conference, and yesterday was their first public appearance together since Chen proposed creating a new constitution.

Lee gave a speech promoting the awareness of Taiwan's national identity and echoed Chen's call for a new constitution.

Lee talked about the biblical story of Moses and Joshua, who led the Jewish people through the desert to build Israel in the promised land of Canaan. Lee said Taiwan is the promised land that God gave to the Taiwanese, and urged the people to be grateful for such a blessing.

"The Israelites didn't acquire the promised land without reason, but they made a long-term effort, including experiencing the pains of war, to establish their nation," he said.

"Likewise, people who identify with Taiwan must have great passion for this land. The campaign to change the country's name from Republic of China to Taiwan reminds the Taiwanese that we need to build a normal country by constructing a new constitution," Lee said

Lee said that this was the only way Taiwan can be separated from China and that the prosperity of the next generation could be ensured.

"The people of Taiwan have to acknowledge their love for this land, because nothing could replace it. God is with us, so there is no need to fear the threats from China," the former president said.

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