In response to the hotly contested issue of Taiwan's sovereignty, former president Lee Tung-hui (
"Taking a retrospective look at Taiwan's history, it is undeniable that Taiwan was taken by Allied forces when World War II came to an end," Lee said in a closing address at the Symposium on a New Constitution for Taiwan organized by Taiwan Advocates yesterday.
"The [Chinese] Nationalist government took over Taiwan under the orders of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, Douglas MacArthur," Lee said.
The key question, Lee said, is how Taiwan should be positioned after the military occupation.
"Despite some asserting a theory of an undefined status or championing a self-initiated legalization of the Nationalist government since no objection was raised at that time, others also contend that the military occupation has never ended," Lee said.
"Another argument is that since the war ended and the military occupation lost its efficacy, the sovereignty of Taiwan should be returned to the hands of Taiwanese," Lee said.
Lee also made an impassioned plea to the global community not to brush aside the war-era problem.
"Taiwan's disputed status has seriously hindered Taiwan's development and restrained the right of the Taiwanese people to pursue a free, democratic country," Lee said. "Half a century on, the international community should no longer allow the remnants of World War II to obstruct the survival of a democratic and economically free nation."
Taiwan's disputed status as a result of World War II has serious repercussions for the region, he said. "The world should not allow this unsolved problem to jeopardize the stability and peace of Asia," Lee said.
This remnant of the war-time conflict is a serious question facing the entire world, he said.
"The world should not look on unconcerned at the Taiwan problem, letting a country of peace-loving people be bullied by hegemonic powers and watch as the Taiwanese are unable to establish their own nation," Lee said.
According to Lee, only by granting Taiwanese the right to establish an independent country could the risk factor in the Asia-Pacific region be erased.
Echoing statements by President Chen Shui-bian (
"The Republic of China [ROC] no longer exists," Lee said,"It'd be useless no matter how we try to fix the ROC constitution."
Other scholars at the seminar also stressed the urgency need to write a new constitution instead of making constitutional revisions.
Eugene Sullivan, a former federal judge in the US, said that Taiwan should rebuild a solid, new foundation for its democracy by drafting a new constitution. "Taiwan's democracy is like a house whose foundation is the ROC Constitution adopted in 1947. The foundation is weakened by defects although you tried to patch it up," Sullivan said.
Sounding a similar note, the Chinese dissident writer Cao Chingqing (
"Revising the old constitution is to accept the ROC framework. In that framework, Taiwan is deemed a continuation from the 1949 civil war," Cao said, "Only through a new constitution can people establish an identity of their own."