Sun, May 30, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Lee insists on a new constitution

OUT WITH THE OLD Former president Lee Teng-hui says Taiwan needs to write a brand-new constitution, which should be created by holding a referendum

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday criticized President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan to amend the Constitution and said it was a lie to the people of Taiwan. He insisted that the country need a referendum to create a brand-new constitution.

Addressing a gathering of the Association of Friends of Lee Teng-hui, Lee said that the country needs to create a new constitution rather than revising the existing one, which has been amended six times in the past.

`Impossible'

"It's impossible to revise the Constitution. I've revised it six times already," Lee said, referring to the six constitutional revisions carried out during his 12-year presidency.

However, advocating that the constitution should be made according to the people's wishes in a referendum, Lee said that the Referendum Law (公投法) was a watered-down law which did nothing but limit people's rights to hold referendums.

He said that the most pressing matter now is to amend the Referendum Law, but this could only be achieved when the pan-green camp becomes the majority in the legislature after the year-end legislative elections.

Composition

"The existing composition of the pan-green and pan-blue lawmakers in the legislature makes it very difficult to amend the Referendum Law, which, if not amended, can't be used to create a new constitution.

"Chen's plan to elect an ad hoc national assembly or incorporate people's rights in the constitutional revision also can't overhaul the existing constitution satisfactorily," Lee said.

Responding to Chen's inauguration speech, Lee said it had to be conciliatory because Chen realized that his presidential victory was narrow and he had to take the other half of the electorate who didn't vote for him into consideration for the sake of social stability in the country.

"I can understand why Chen would say what he did in his inauguration speech because I was a president myself. It was because the difference in numbers between the pan-green and pan-blue supporters was too narrow, which poses the danger of Taiwan becoming unstable," Lee said.

Chen won a razor-thin election victory by only some 29,000 votes.

Lee said that Chen's narrow victory was the reason for the US opposing Taiwan in creating a new constitution, and "the US would have different opinions if Chen had won by more than 300,000 votes. That way the government would have had strong enough support to go ahead with creating a new constitution."

Drubbing

Commenting on the US' stance in supporting Chen's constitutional amendment plan, Senior Presidential Advisor Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏) yesterday lambasted the US for interfering with Taiwan's plans to draft a new constitution, saying he wants to organize "anti-America" activities to protest the US' interference with Taiwan's internal affairs.

"Taiwan is not a colonial state of the US. It can't stop its plan [to create a constitution] simply because the US opposes it. Where is Taiwan's sovereignty then?" Koo said.

Commenting on the pan-blue alliance's moves to deny the election defeat and its insistence on overturning the election results,Lee said that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) looked like a psychiatric patient on March 20 after losing a depressing presidential-election battle. Lee urged Lien to give up his incessant pursuit of the country's top job.

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