Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Top 10 Taiwan Stories: New constitution pursued

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators from the green and blue camps wave placards and hold banners inside the Legislative Yuan on March 12 claiming that they are the real contributors to the nation's legislative reforms as the constitutional amendment bill faces its second reading.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) made an important pledge in his May 20 inauguration speech: to pursue constitutional reform during his second term, and promised his push for constitutional changes will not touch on thorny issues of national sovereignty, territory or independence.

Chen said it is his hope that by the time he completes his presidency in 2008, he would be able to hand to the people of Taiwan and to the country a new version of the Constitution, "one that is timely, relevant and viable."

"This is my historic responsibility and my commitment to the people," Chen said.

Noting that he is fully aware that a consensus has yet to be reached on issues related to national sovereignty, territory and the subject of unification versus independence, Chen stressed in his speech that these particular issues would be excluded from the project of constitutional re-engineering.

Washington welcomed Chen's speech as "responsible and constructive," heaping effusive praise on Chen's olive branch to Beijing and his pledge not to deal with sovereignty issues as he "re-engineers" the Constitution during his second term.

While some analysts and pan-green camp politicians praised his inaugural speech as a conciliatory and practical approach to reality, pro-independence hardliners, such as the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), scorned his blueprint for Taiwan's future. The TSU was unhappy that Chen skipped the issue of name rectification and demarcating the nation's territory when he talked about constitutional reform.

Among the issues mentioned by Chen in his speech that need immediate reform include issues on whether to have a three-branch or five-branch separation of powers and whether to adopt a presidential or parliamentary system of government.

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