Sun, Feb 15, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Lee advises treating China as an enemy

HOT WORDS Until China renounces its military threats against Taiwan it should be seen as an enemy nation, the former president told a forum in Taichung yesterday

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui sings in chorus at a seminar held by Taiwan Advocates to promote the drafting of a new constitution in Taichung yesterday.

PHOTO: LIAO YAO-TUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan needs a new constitution to reflect its current sovereign status, clarify its political structures and define its relationship with China, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday.

Lee was speaking in Taichung at a forum held by the thinktank Taiwan Advocates to promote the drafting of a new constitution.

As well as the new constitution the forum also discussed referendums and the importance of preventing Taiwan from regressing politically by allowing old and discredited political forces to make a comeback.

In his opening speech Lee said that the forum was meant to enlighten people about their own rights as the bosses of the country and about Taiwan's current status, to consolidate the value of Taiwan's sovereignty and the notion of "Taiwan First," to define the roles of Taiwan and China clearly and to define the hostility of China toward Taiwan.

Lee said that Taiwanese should use three core principles in defining their relationship with China: first that Taiwan and the People's Republic of China are two separate countries which do not belong to each other; second, the confirmation of "Taiwan First," ie, thinking from a nationalist perspective centered on the interests of Taiwan; third, counting China as a hostile country until it renounces its military threats against Taiwan.

Much of the discussion of the need for a new constitution centered on the lack of clarity about who should actually govern in Taiwan's semi-presidential system.

"Taiwan is a political system neither led by the president nor by the Cabinet. The president cannot dismiss the legislature when the legislature is running amok and vice versa," Lee Hung-hsi said.

He said it was necessary to draft a new constitution because it was impossible to amend the current one.

"To have the Constitution amended, regulations require that the amendment has to be proposed by at least one fourth of the legislators, at least three-fourths of the legislators have to be present at the session and at least three-fourths of the legislators present at the session must support the amendment. But with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) dominating the legislature, any amendment is destined to fail. So we can only resort to making a new constitution," he said.

Lee Hung-hsi pointed out that the current Constitution was written in 1946 and promulgated in 1947 in China. It reflected the needs of China, and it had nothing to do with Taiwan. Taiwan needed a constitution of its own, he said.

"Someone has even been saying amending the Constitution would cause chaos in the country, but even China has amended its Constitution in the past and we didn't see Chinese people running amok after that," he said.

According to Chen Po-chih (陳博志), chairman of Taiwan Thinktank, the KMT was trying to preserve the current Constitution to enable it to hold on to power at some level.

"Several years back when I was involved in amending the Constitution, I dined with a politician from a certain party who was also involved in the process. I asked that politician why his party supported a political system with two heads and two legislatures. That politician explained that his party did so because if the party lost the presidency, then it could still control the Cabinet; if the party lost the Legislative Yuan, then it could still continue to control the National Assembly," Chen said.

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