Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Hsieh supports rewriting Constitution

INDEPENDENT Frank Hsieh said that he was not against holding a referendum on unification with China as this would show the world that the nation is against it

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday that writing a new constitution would not mean changing the "status quo" because Taiwan is already an independent country.

Hsieh said that the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) claim that Taiwan is not an independent country has put the nation in a difficult position because its allies, such as the US, have opposed any referendum on the issue of Taiwan's independence.

Hsieh said his thoughts on Taiwan's independence could serve as a theoretical basis to deflect pressure from allies against amending the nation's name and writing a new constitution.

Hsieh was asked to elaborate on comments he made during a televised interview on SET TV on Tuesday night.

During the interview, Hsieh said if he were elected president, he would amend the nation's title and write a new constitution within five years.

He added that amending the nation's name was part of efforts to normalize the country and did not require recognition from the rest of the world.

Hsieh said his plan could work within five years, as more than 80 percent of Taiwanese embraced a strong national identity while the KMT struggled to catch up.

Asked whether he would continue to push the plan even if the US maintained its disapproval, Hsieh said he believed the degree of solidarity in the country five years from now would help turn the situation into a favorable one.

But he also said he would not gamble with the nation's security.

Hsieh said he was not against holding a referendum on unification with China because the world would then know that the public is against it.

The result could also be used as a "bargaining chip" to protect Taiwan, he said.

Hsieh said KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and he both agreed that the future of the nation should be decided by the people, but they differed in terms of their preference for independence or unification.

DPP legislative whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) lauded Hsieh's remarks, saying Hsieh understood that it would take time for Taiwan to build up its strength in order to be recognized by the world.

Using Japanese samurai Tokugawa Ieyasu's ascent to power as an example, Wang said Taiwan needed to remain patient while it developed its strength.

In response, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that if Hsieh wanted to rewrite the Constitution, the DPP would need to secure three-quarters of the legislative seats.

Any constitutional revision must be proposed by the Legislative Yuan and approved by three-quarters of the legislature.

Wang said he did not understand what Hsieh meant when he said he would change the nation's title and create a new constitution within five years.

"Isn't the fifth year the second term? It's good that he has confidence in himself, but no one knows what the political situation will be like then," Wang said.

KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) criticized Hsieh for making promises that he would be unable to fulfill.

"Was Hsieh mocking President Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁) in thinking he could accomplish in five years what President Chen couldn't do in eight years?" Hung said.

Hsieh's remarks that the name-change and a new constitution had nothing to do with changing the "status-quo" did not make sense, Hung said.

The KMT also blasted Hsieh for cheating the US and voters with his remarks.

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