Thu, May 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

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President Chen's Inaugural Speech: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Taiwan

Heads of States, Diplomatic Envoys and Foreign Dignitaries, Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Citizens:

Firstly, I wish to thank our honorable guests, at home and from abroad, who have joined us today for the Inauguration Ceremony of the 11th-Term President and Vice President of the Republic of China. What we have come together to witness are the progressive steps of Taiwan's democracy, as well as a story, written jointly by the 23 million people of Taiwan--one that is extraordinary and truly remarkable.

On this joyous occasion of national celebration, I will assume the solemn duty bestowed upon me by the people. At this moment, that which fills my mind is not eloquent words of glory and exaltation, but rather, weighty thoughts of bigger responsibility, greater humility, and deeper self-reflection.

In the final year of the twentieth century, Taiwan crossed a historic doorsill, completing an unprecedented transfer of power between political parties, and ushering in a new era in our nation's democratic development. In that time of change over--between the old and the new century--our fledgling democracy found itself stumbling down a rugged path of trial and tribulation. Taiwan's maiden voyage into the new century came wrought with turbulence as the old and the new, the weak and the strong, the emergence of crisis and the rise of opportunity--all came clashing into co-existence.

In the eyes of Chinese societies and other emerging democratic states, Taiwan's democracy embodies not merely a democratic experimentation; it signifies an exemplary success. The standard of democracy achieved in Western nations is the tried result through the test of time. In comparison, Taiwan's newfound democracy, after weathering rough waters, has burgeoned into an even more precious accomplishment. Our experience also serves as testament that democracy does not come ready-made, nor is it a Utopian ideal. There is no express train to transport us to the final destination. Democratic advancement occurs only through constant and gradual endeavor, one step at a time.

In the initial stage of Taiwan's democratization—from lifting of the martial law, complete re-election of the national legislature to direct presidential election—we have vested sovereignty with the people and began fostering Taiwan's national identity. In the second stage, a greater emphasis is placed on the establishment of a civil society and on the rebuilding of unity through a sense of shared destiny.

From increased community and civic consciousness to broader participation in public affairs and national policymaking--including the holding of a referendum, the rights and duties of citizens in a civil society have been affirmed and further improved; and thereby, the development towards a more matured, rational, and responsive democracy. We must seek to establish a civil society, and through joint participation and collective efforts, to create an identity with this land and a common memory if we are to transcend the limitations of ethnicity, lineage, language and culture, and to build a new and unified sense of shared destiny.

In today's society, issues of identity and ethnicity are a serious matter that cannot be denied or deliberately overlooked. My colleagues and I, in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the governing party, will lead the way in addressing such issues. We will take the first step and begin with candid self-reflection.

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