Tue, Nov 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Reform plan lifts pan-blue camp

CHANGE IN MORALE The blue camp is no longer feeling so blue now that KMT Chairman Lien Chan has been converted to the cause of constitutional reform

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) latest plans for constitutional reform have apparently raised spirits in a pan-blue camp that had been suffering from low morale thanks to declining support in public-opinion polls.

Several pan-blue legislators said Lien's proposal showed the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance was taking the offensive in the campaign.

KMT Legislator Hung Hiu-chu (洪秀柱) said Lien's plan "allowed the alliance to be free from all nuisance."

"According to my contacts with others [pan-blue legislators], many are positive about Lien's proposal," Hung said.

"Lien's overture for constitutional reform has not only made the maneuvering space for the pan-blue camp as boundless as the sea and the sky, but has also forced Presidential Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) into a spot where he ought to come out to clearly define himself and tell the public what exactly he has in mind when he spoke of a new constitution," Hung added.

On Saturday, Lien mapped out a three-step plan for constitutional reform that would set in motion a referendum for a new constitution to be held two years earlier than the 2006 referendum planned by Chen.

When Chen first brought up his plan in September to push for a new constitution, Lien dismissed Chen's proposal as "nonsense and boring."

But now, the born-again Lien has unveiled an even hastier timetable for the enactment of a new constitution.

PFP Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said Lien's reversal was a result of the recent treatment the US had given Chen.

During his recent trip to Panama and three-day stopover in the US, Chen's treatment was called a breakthrough by domestic Chinese-language media.

Noting that Chen, despite having proposed the referendum and a new constitution, received such a warm welcome from the US, the KMT-PFP alliance began to wonder "whether they had been fooled by the US," Lin said.

According to Lin, a strategy-professor-turned-lawmaker, the alliance had misinterpreted messages from the US and thought that the US might have been unhappy about Chen's plans for reform and would thus give Chen a more hostile reception.

After an in-party assessment, Lin said the alliance felt that the US had given mixed signals on the referendum issue.

On the one hand, the US wished to obstruct referendums on the issue of unification by relying on the pan-blue camp's opposition.

On the other hand, Lin said, the US, in view of a mass arm deals with Taiwan, adopted a permissive attitude toward the DPP's rhetoric on a new constitution.

The US maneuver had restricted moves by the pan-blue camp, which believed "the US would not agree with Chen's stand," Lin said.

Given that the KMT is no longer a ruling party, Lin said the blue camp should not place too much weight on messages sent by the US.

Hung said the KMT-PFP alliance ought to think like an opposition party instead of carrying the ruling party's burden and letting such behavior impede its campaign strategy.

According to a poll conducted by TVBS on Sunday, the support rate for the pairing of Lien and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was 10 percent ahead of the DPP.

Before that, a poll conducted by the Chinese-language China Times on Nov. 6 showed that support for Chen's pairing with Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was, for the first time, in the lead,with support for the Lien-Soong ticket at 34 percent and that for the Chen-Lu ticket at 35 percent.

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