Sun, Apr 18, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen to address ethnic strife, aides say

HIGH HOPES Insiders close to President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday that he would use his May 20 inauguration speech to outline a doctrine eliminating ethnic tension

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will react to the public's expectations to eliminate ethnic tensions by proposing a new doctrine on "Taiwanese awareness and localization" during his May 20 inauguration speech, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweights said yesterday.

Chen said yesterday that one's love for Taiwan was not a racial issue. He said he believed that the people of Taiwan could not be defined by when they came to the island, and that they all loved Taiwan.

For that reason, he said, while in office, he would strive to work in harmony with the opposition parties and to achieve lasting peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Chen made this promise during a speech at the starting ceremony of the annual Matsu pilgrimage at Tachia Chenlan Temple in Taichung County.

"A leader of a country might have blind spots. He might even be deceived. So I want to learn from the goddess Matsu how to represent the people with humility and to serve with wisdom.

"I hope that the people will be my eyes and ears and let me know whenever I make mistakes," he said.

Chen's remarks have been regarded as a positive reaction to outspoken DPP Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung's (沈富雄) appeal to his party not to continue using ethnic issues referring to a Taiwanese national identity as a campaign theme in the year-end legislative elections.

"For a long time politicians' way of deciding whether someone loved Taiwan or sided with China had been detrimental to the ethnic harmony of the nation," he said during a press conference entitled "Love Taiwan" on Friday.

Shen urged the DPP to formulate a formal resolution to stop manipulating ethnic issues between the majority Hoklo and so-called `Mainlanders.'

The dispute over the outcome of the presidential election has exacerbated ethnic tension in Taiwan, so much so that leading public figures such as Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) have sought to encourage the president, while he is no longer pressured by the need to gain a second term of office, to seek robustly but in a tolerant and humble manner to minimize the strife, which seems to grow more serious by the day.

Moreover, some DPP legislators from different factions, including Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉), Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Tuan Yi-kan (段宜康), Chiu Tai-shan (邱太三) and Lee Weng-chung (李文忠), also gathered recently to brainstorm about how to show the party's sincerity on the matter by taking concrete action.

"President Chen's inauguration speech, apart from discussing the cross-strait issue which concerns the entire world, will also say that a new cultural discourse must be established, focusing on a redefinition of localization," said DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).

According to an aide close to the president, Chen will say that Chinese culture has become an element of Taiwan's culture and will affirm Chinese cultural views and values. He will also say that localization is a product of cultural diversification, to show his resolve to reduce ethnic strife.

Luo Wen-chia, who is close to the president, said that there is a basis for the government's new cultural discourse. Although its substantive details have not yet been formulated, once the president has mentioned it in his May 20 inauguration speech it will be quickly debated in the requisite DPP discussion forums so that a concrete consensus can emerge within half a year, broadening the common view of DPP members before being introduced to the broader public.

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