Calling Taiwan and China two countries, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday vowed to deliver a new Constitution, join the UN with the name "Taiwan" and hold a referendum on the recovery of assets stolen by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Addressing the 20th anniversary of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at the Grand Hotel, where the party was founded, Chen said he believed most Taiwanese agreed that Taiwan and China were two countries.
"Taiwan is Taiwan and China is China," Chen said. "Some people may want to use different words to describe this situation, but I believe it is the common belief of most people that Taiwan and China are two completely different countries."
Chen said that to insist on a Taiwan consciousness and Taiwan first was the most sacred historic mission of the Taiwanese people and the only way the DPP could survive and develop.
"Over the past 20 years, the DPP has been like a boat sailing on the high seas weathering strong winds, heavy rain and roaring waves, but we were never lost because we had faith in Taiwan and its people," he said. "As long as we insist on doing the right thing, going the right way and being the main support of the people, we will accomplish the long-term goals entrusted to us by the 23 million people of Taiwan."
Chen said party members risked their lives establishing the party, and 20 years later they needed to use the same courage to promise the Taiwanese people that they are determined to correct the wrongs of the authoritarian era.
This involves the Constitution, accession to the UN and the recovery of the KMT's stolen assets.
On constitutional reform, Chen said the enactment of the Republic of China Constitution lacked the participation of Taiwanese people and the content was divorced from the current situation.
"Over the past six years, we have proved the Constitution can not function normally and it has caused only internal friction and the government to stagnate," he said. "We can no longer deceive ourselves. We desperately need a timely, suitable and viable new Constitution."
Regarding accession to the UN, Chen said the public needed to seriously review the historic error made by dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in 1971. Chiang refused to jointly sit on the UN with China and therefore denied Taiwanese people the right of equal participation in the international organization.
As the KMT had accumulated large amounts of stolen assets during its 50-year rule, Chen called on the public to exert their power to set this historic error straight.
Citing a prayer written by former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (
Currently embroiled in calls for his resignation and criticism by members of his own party, Chen yesterday said he respected different voices because Taiwan was a liberal democracy and the DPP has never been ruled by the voice of one man alone.
The party's four heavyweights -- Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) -- all attended yesterday's event.
Lu, who was supposed to speak, decided not to do so, silencing rumors that she would make a "dramatic move" on the anniversary.
Lin and former DPP chairmen Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) did not attend yesterday. Shih's first wife, Chen Li-chu (陳麗珠), however, showed up, trying to sell T-shirts to raise funds to pay for their sick daughter's medical expenses, which she said Shih stopped paying this month.