Lien trumpets KMT constitutional plan

REFORM: The KMT chairman said that he wants to hold a debate with President Chen over the merits of the pan-greens' and pan-blues' new constitution drafts

By Lin Chieh-yu and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Sun, Nov 16, 2003 - Page 1

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday mapped out a three-step plan toward constitutional reform, claiming it was more radical than proposals set down by the Democratic Progress Party (DPP).

The measure, announced by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), will set in motion a referendum for a new constitution to be held two years earlier than the 2006 referendum planned by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"We will propose our new constitution draft next February and invite President Chen to debate the issue," said Lien during a KMT presidential campaign rally last night. "The second stage [after the election] will be to amend the current Constitution to add a referendum article."

"The final step is to put our new Constitution draft to a referendum at the same time as the legislative elections next December," Lien said.

On Sept. 28, Chen told the DPP's national assembly his intention to put a new constitution to a referendum. At the time, Lien responded by saying, "It is nonsense."

In October, however, Lien said he would organize a constitutional-reform committee if he won the presidential election.

Intending to reverse the public's image that the pan-blue alliance is against a referendum, Lien said last night that any referendum should be a constitutional-level mechanism and not based on a law ratified by the Legislative Yuan, as proposed by the DPP.

"Except on whether to change the official name of the country, the pan greens and the pan blues do not differ in how to draw up a new constitution," Lien said.

All four major political parties campaigned this weekend in and around Tainan, the hometown of both Chen and Lien.

More than 10,000 supporters were been mobilized to attended Lien's rally and many pan-blue heavyweights, including People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), accompanied Lien on a visit to a local night market.

Meanwhile, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday urged the public not to be deceived by the pan-blue alliance.

"The power has been returned to the hands of people and everyone expects to have the referendum mechanism However, only now do they [the pan-blue alliance] finally begin to talk about implementing the direct right of the people," Lee said at a founding ceremony of the party's district headquarters in Tainan County.

"I hope that the Taiwanese people will not be cheated again because Taiwan cannot return to the old ways," he said.