Tue, Nov 09, 2004 - Page 1 News List

TPA writes`Taiwanese' constitution

PRO-INDEPENDENCE A group of academics unveiled their version of a draft constitution for the `Republic of Taiwan,' with some surprising clauses

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A pro-independence group, the Taiwan Professors Association (TPA, 台灣教授協會), unveiled a draft "Constitution of the Republic of Taiwan" on Sunday which would create a presidential system and a three-branch government, and would allow the residents of Kinmen and Matsu the right of "self-determination" regarding the status of their islands.

The draft constitution also stipulates that the four major ethnic groups in Taiwan -- Aborigines, Hakka, Hoklo and Mainlanders -- should be referred to as the "people of Taiwan," and that the nation's territory should include Taiwan proper and Penghu.

As for the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, their future -- whether to opt for independence, come under the authority of Taiwan or return to China -- should be decided by the residents through referendum.

"The constitutional draft aims to offer a new vision of the nation for the people of Taiwan. And when people want to think about the constitution issue, we are happy to let them know that a constitutional text is already prepared for them," Chen I-Shen (陳儀深) said yesterday.

Chen is a TPA member and one of the constitution's drafters. He is also the Northern Taiwan Society's deputy chairman and a research fellow at Academia Sinica.

"We hope both the ruling parties and the opposition parties will spend time thinking about this issue. But we will not try to force them to adopt our version," Chen said.

From a historical perspective, Chen said, Taiwan and Penghu, which were ceded to Japan in 1895 by the Qing Dynasty, were a community sharing a common destiny, while Kinmen and Matsu have been bound to Taiwan and Penghu as a result of the political power of the authoritarian regime of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in 1949.

Besides, in light of strategic conditions, Chen added, Kinmen and Matsu could no longer have too much influence in guaranteeing Taiwan's security, which has also been suggested by former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and the World United Formosans for independence.

On the contrary, the two islands might become crucial points that could be used to force Taiwan to surrender to China should a war break out, Chen said.

Chang Cheng-shuh (張正修), also one of the constitution's drafters, stressed that the "self-determination" clause is not meant to exclude the people who live on Kinmen and Matsu, but to offer them a "civil and open" choice.

Noticeably, one constitutional clause was dubbed the "Ma Ying-jeou clause" (馬英九條款) in the draft. The clause endows the legislature with the power to deprive a local government of its autonomy if its actions conflict with the decisions made by the central government.

Chang said bluntly that this clause was included as a result of Taipei Mayor Ma, who intentionally turned a blind eye to the pan-blue camp's illegal protests in front of the Presidential Office after the March 20 presidential election, and his attempts to defy the decisions made by the central government.

Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Huang Chung-yuan (黃宗源) yesterday said that the TSU basically supported the framework of the TPA's-proposed constitution.

"But according to former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) opinions, the new constitution for Taiwan must be designed thoroughly by constitutional experts and established through people's referendums, which have to be carried out quite meticulously and deliberately," Huang said.

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