Wed, May 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen tells FAPA he hasn't backtracked

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday denied that he had abandoned his insistence on constitutional reform in his May 20 inauguration speech. He said that he had had to consider both the international community and domestic forces as he made his remarks.

"Many people said that I made too many concessions in my inauguration speech, especially about the constitutional reform issue, even saying that I had abandoned my earlier decisions (made during the election campaign)," Chen said.

"I must tell you that as far as the section in my inauguration speech on administrative reform was concerned, I considered this over and over again. Each point, to the very nub of each point, was thought over word by word and with the utmost caution," the president said.

"Everybody had concerns and there was much pressure, but especially constitutional reform, cross-strait relations, ethnic concerns and so on -- these are things to which I attach great importance, things I wish to confront, issues that cannot be dodged," Chen said.

"So as I pursue my ideals, I must be creative and wise as I consider the practical obstacles. I must display a responsible and principled approach. But I most sincerely assure you that I will gain the affirmation of the US," he said.

The president made his remarks as he received representatives of the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations (世界台灣人大會) yesterday at the Presidential Office, urging the pro-independence leaders to show understanding and to continue to support his administration.

Chen stressed that the direction and substance of his inauguration speech were in line with the best interests of the Taiwanese people and, "at the same time, in line with our long-term goal to give the Taiwanese people and our nation a timely, appropriate and workable new constitution."

He said that during the process of drawing up the new constitution there would be many different opinions and suggestions that the government could neither ignore nor pretend never to have heard.

"In the process of reforming the constitution, the more ideas and sentiments that can be adopted and nurtured, the less opposition there will be to the reform," Chen said, adding that he is committed to creating an environment conducive to constitutional reform.

Chen said that in the last 20 or 30 years, the road to Taiwan's democracy had been a bumpy one, full of challenges and tests, but that democracy was not something to which one could expect to drive in a straight line; there are twists and turns. So, he said, he hoped all guests would remain confident in him, as well as in democracy.

Talking about the significance of his victory in this year's presidential election, Chen said that his job in his second term is to facilitate the goal of "uniting all Taiwan," which, he said, has obviously been split by the campaign. He said that unity would be the main element on which to build a firm base for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) long-term rule in the future.

"Before the vote on March 20, I clearly announced that `Unite Taiwan, stabilize the Taiwan Strait, bring social peace and economic growth' were the most important tasks for the next four years, and that of these, uniting Taiwan was the basis for the work of our administration. Without unity, Taiwan cannot develop the country's power to resist the pressures from China and to face the challenges in the international community," Chen said.

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