Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen proposes change of Constitution

RED HERRING? Beset by problems the president sought yesterday to drag up an old theme in an effort to gain support, while opposition parties scorned his suggestions

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH STAFF WRITER AND CNA

The DPP's Central Executive Committee is planning to discuss the party's draft constitutional amendments when it meets on Oct. 4. Once finalized, the draft would proceed to the DPP legislative caucus, which would then discuss it with other caucuses.

DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said that his party, which does not enjoy a legislative majority, would not and could not dictate any changes.

"The results will not be a surprise for the US government," he said. "I guarantee the entire process is democratic and the end result is open."

Yu said that he personally is in favor of enacting a new constitution and change the national title to Taiwan, but added that he would respect the opinions of his party and the government.

KMT RESPONSE

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday that it would not agree with the proposal to change the Constitution, casting the president's comments as a move toward independence.

Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆), a whip of the KMT's legislative caucus, said his caucus did not support further amendments to the Constitution.

Tsai said that the Constitution has undergone seven amendments in 15 years, including one in June last year, and that people are still waiting to see whether that amendment on reducing the number of legislative seats by half is workable.

"President Chen's proposal is an apparent move toward Taiwan's independence, intended to trigger conflict between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, so that he can have an excuse to impose a curfew and secure his presidency," Tsai said.

Chen is under mounting pressure to step down over a series of allegations and scandals involving people near to him. An anti-graft campaign demanding his resignation entered the 16th day of protests yesterday.

Tsai urged the president to "respond to the people's wishes," instead of using another constitutional amendment as a "red herring" to secure his presidency.

"The KMT and the people cannot possibly allow Chen to sacrifice the public interest for his own selfish interests," Tsai said.

PFP SPEAKS

Meanwhile, the People First Party (PFP) said that its legislative caucus would resort to "extreme measures" to paralyze the Legislative Yuan if the DPP insists on pushing for a new constitution in an attempt to help the president "get off the hook" from various allegations.

Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), a PFP legislative caucus whip, told reporters that Chen's integrity was "seriously in doubt," and that there was no justification for the president to propose further amendments to the Constitution or the drafting of a new constitution.

Lee outlined his party's stance after Chen told a seminar earlier yesterday that it was time now to "seriously consider redressing the unrealities in the Constitution," including the Constitution's claim that the Republic of China's territory covers the whole of China and Mongolia.

"Such moves toward Taiwan's independence are actually intended to divert attention from the corruption scandals implicating the president and his family and to blur the focus of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign," Lee said.

The US and other members of the international community will not support the government's move, and the only effect will be to provoke Beijing, cause more tension in cross-strait relations and expose the people of Taiwan to greater danger, Lee said.

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