Thu, Jan 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Clergymen urge president to stick to his principles

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In response to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) willingness to cooperate with the pro-unification People First Party (PFP), a number of members of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan wrote a letter to the president expressing the need to uphold one's principles despite talks of party cooperation.

"The letter was written out of our concern for Taiwan's political situation, which we hope would be normalized and stabilized," said Reverend Kao Chun-min (高俊明), whose church has been a long-time advocate of independence.

Kao said the letter, which was co-written by Reverend William Lo (羅榮光) and the church's deputy secretary-general Lin Chung-cheng (林宗正), was written as a personal appeal, and not on behalf of the church.

"While we approve of party cooperation, we would like to express our views that one must uphold one's principles and not compromise in the midst of talks about party cooperation," Kao said.

The letter was mailed to Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on Monday.

Kao made the remarks in reference to the recent talks of cooperation between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the PFP, which favors eventual unification with China.

In the wake of last month's legislative elections, in which the DPP failed to obtain a majority along with its political ally the Taiwan Solidarity Union, discussion has been growing about the DPP seeking cooperation with the second-largest opposition party, the PFP, to enable smoother passage of bills in the new legislature.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) last week suggested that the DPP could abolish or revise its "Taiwan independence clause" to facilitate cooperation with the PFP. While receiving visiting Canadian representatives on Tuesday, Chen explicitly noted his willingness to cooperate with the PFP.

"One needs to keep in mind that cooperation is sought not for the interests of one's own party, but for the well-being of Taiwan as a whole," Kao said, adding that the letter made a point to stress that "the respect, human rights and sovereignty of Taiwan's 23 million people must not be compromised in the course of undertaking party-to-party cooperation."

"The letter was written out of our belief and conscience. By no means was it an attempt to interfere with the nation's policy-making process," said Kao, who currently serves as a senior advisor to the president.

He said Chen and Lu have not yet responded to their letter.

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