Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 3 News List

DPP, KMT agree to debate between Chen and Lien

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday reached an agreement that the two parties' presidential candidates, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), will take part in a debate regarding the controversial constitutional reform issue.

KMT Secretary General Lin Feng-cheng (林豐正), leading a group of representatives yesterday, visited his DPP counterpart, Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), in the DPP's headquarters to discuss the details of the debate, which had been proposed by the KMT.

Although the two camps failed to reach agreement on the date and the topics to be covered, they concluded that only Chen and Lien would participate in the debate in their capacities as presidential candidates. People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), Lien's running mate in the election, would not participate in the debate.

The two sides also agreed that each party would form a five-person task force to conduct further talks on the debate. The ten task force members will convene for the first time at the KMT's headquarters next Monday.

The DPP proposed three dates for the debate: Dec. 1, Dec. 4 or Dec. 5, while the KMT offered to debate on Dec. 25, the anniversary of the promulgation of the ROC Constitution.

The two sides clashed over the topics to be debated after the KMT demanded that the DPP should propose its version of the new constitution before February next year.

The KMT recently proposed amending the ROC Constitution following the DPP's announcement in September that it wants to create a new constitution -- an issue that has seen increasing public support.

Amid the growing public support, Lien proposed a quick three-step constitutional revision project to be completed in early 2005. On Saturday he invited Chen to take part in a debate on the issue.

However, the DPP insisted on following the three principles Chen proposed for creating a new constitution: that the DPP will not set any preconditions for constructing a constitution, the DPP proposes to use the referendum to decide on the content of the constitution, and the DPP insists the proposed constitution should be thoroughly discussed in public.

According to the DPP's schedule creating a new constitution, it would wait until 2006 before creating a new constitution and would enact it in 2008.

Lin contended that the DPP should provide a clear framework for the debate and clarify whether its creation of a constitution is to promote the creation of a "Republic of Taiwan."

Chang said that the DPP would stick to its own timetable and that the procedural work of writing a new constitution could be left open for debate.

Yesterday's meeting in the DPP's headquarters was attended by, among others, KMT policy committee convener and vice convener Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) and Huang Fu-tien (黃福田), executive officer of the KMT's think tank Tsai Hsung-hsiung (蔡勳雄) and KMT spokesperson Alex Tsai (蔡正元).

The DPP's attendees, led by party secretary Chang, included Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), the director of the DPP's Policy Research and Coordinating Committee, Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), the party's legislative convener of the constitution reform task force, Sheng Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), Social Development Department director Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), and Information and Cultural Department director Mason Yang (楊孟勳).

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