Thu, Oct 02, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lien says KMT will deal with public's real worries

CNA AND AP , TAIPEI

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is not opposed to revising the Constitution, however, it has its own proposals which will be put forward after listening to public opinion and consulting with other political parties, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said yesterday.

Three days after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) sent shockwaves through political circles by pledging to draw up a new Constitution for the country by 2006, Lien said the key to revising the Constitution lies in negotiations rather than a unilateral declaration.

However, the KMT chief, who will run for president in next March's election, said his party wants to address the problem that the public is most concerned about, which is not if the country should unite with China, but how to boost the nation's sagging economy and improve the lives of its people.

Many of the current economic problems result from the fact that the government's economic policy was dictated by the Democratic Progressive Party's political preferences and its desire to win the presidential election, Lien said.

As a way to win support for his presidential bid, Lien said the KMT and its political ally in the presidential election, the People First Party, will come up with a program to better the country's investment environment, sharpen its competitiveness, reform the financial system and protect the interests of farmers and laborers.

Meanwhile, political scientist Emile Sheng (盛治仁) believes the president is trying to appeal to two key groups of voters as he campaigns for re-election in March.

The first group includes die-hard independence supporters who would view a new Constitution as the symbol of a new country, he said.

"Chen is sending a loud-and-clear signal to them that `I'm on your side,'" said Sheng, who teaches at Soochow University.

The second group includes legions of moderates who might be impressed by Chen's efforts to improve the government, Sheng said. If opposition candidates reject the issue, they could be branded as a reactionary "anti-reform force," he said.

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