Mon, Oct 20, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Expert calls Constitution `bizarre, outdated'

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

It is imperative that Taiwan comes up with its own constitution soon, as the ROC Constitution is bizarre and outdated, Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧), a constitutional expert, said at a seminar held by Taiwan New Century Foundation yesterday. The aim of the seminar was to outline the process for a new constitution.

"It [the Constitution] deviates from international standards, as it does not clearly state whether our government follows a presidential or a cabinet system, nor does it separate government administration from the legislature," Lee said.

Four distinguished international academics attending the seminar agreed upon a systemic process to establish a new constitution for Taiwan. They said that such a process can only be executed by holding a referendum.

"There is a trend in the international community that a referendum should be held to decide on constitutional amendments. The most basic reason for this trend is that the constitution should come from the people," Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志), chairman of the foundation and advisor to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), said.

Chen Lung-chu added that the highest constitutional power is citizens' participation, which is also the essence of democracy.

Lee questioned the legality of the current Constitution, saying that the ROC Constitution was not a result of the will of the Taiwanese people, and therefore it should not be applicable to Taiwan.

According to Lee, the ROC Constitution was drafted and passed in China between 1936 and 1947. At that time, Taiwan was under Japanese occupation, so technically Taiwan still belonged to Japan when Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) brought the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to Taiwan in 1949.

"Although former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) amended the Constitution six times during his administration, the amendments were primarily for the good of Taiwan's democracy, not for a firm structure for nation building -- the essence of what a constitution should be," Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), a political analyst, said.

Lee Hung-hsi said the process of promoting a new constitution is only feasible if the president is re-elected next year.

"I have known President Chen since he was young, and it has been his long-term wish to push for a new constitution. Therefore, bringing up this issue so close to the election is definitely not a campaign gimmick," Lee said.

Wu Shuh-min (吳樹民), a national policy advisor to the president, said that the current system of education fails to teach students about Taiwan's political history.

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