Fri, Feb 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Unsurprisingly, political parties split about meet

`A FAILURE' Even as the TSU and KMT were busy disparaging Soong and Chen's meeting, the DPP and the PFP lauded it as a step in the right direction

By Ko Shu-ling and Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A pro-unification demonstrator protests outside the Taipei Guest House where President Chen Shui-bian met with PFP leader James Soong yesterday. Chen reaffirmed his pledge not to push for independence and promised to seek a peace framework across the Taiwan Strait after discussions with the opposition leader.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Calling the meeting between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) a "failure," Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers yesterday berated Chen for surrendering to pro-unification forces and vowed to continue their campaign to push for changing the national moniker and rewriting the Constitution.

"If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) abandons its ideals about the nation's official name, I'm here to declare that we will end the partnership with the DPP and pursue the cause by ourselves," TSU caucus whip Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) told the press conference yesterday afternoon following the Bian-Soong meeting.

"We pledge to continue down the road to strive for the nation's consciousness and a normal and undivided country," he said. Lo also rebuked Chen for "seriously sabotaging" the nation's consciousness by reiterating the "four noes and one not" during yesterday's meeting.

The "four noes" are: no declaration of independence; no change of Taiwan's formal name from the Republic of China; no enshrining the description of cross-strait relations as "state-to-state" in nature in the Constitution; and no holding of a referendum on formal independence. The "one not" is not to abolish the National Reunification Council or the National Reunification Guidelines, both established by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in 1991.

Chen's avoidance of politically sensitive issues only proves that Chen has reneged on his own promise to hand the people of Taiwan a new version of the Constitution that is "timely, relevant and viable," Lo added. In addition to berating Chen for "wanting to make a name for himself in history" and betraying the Taiwanese people, Lo said that Soong took advantage of the meeting to upgrade his political status.

"A-bian's [Chen's nickname] declaration that he does not rule out accepting any possibility for the nation's future is tantamount to bringing the nation to the verge of annexation by China," Lo said.

TSU lawmaker Mark Ho (何敏豪) branded the 10-point consensus reached between Chen and Soong a "stumbling block" on the way to a normal country.

He also called on Taiwanese people to switch their support to the TSU to help the party push the campaign for a name change and new Constitution.

PFP and DPP lawmakers, on the other hand, lauded the "achievements" made during yesterday's meeting.

Calling the meeting an "extravaganza of truth," PFP legislative caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said that his caucus fully supports the conclusion reached by Soong and Chen.

"From today on, we hope to see more dialogue than opposition between the ruling and opposition parties, as well as more supervision than confrontation," he said.

PFP Legislator Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) appealed to the TSU and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), asking them to cherish what was achieved at yesterday's meeting.

"We hope they realize the fact that the meeting is aimed at pursuing the national interest with the most practical approach," he said.

DPP New Tide faction (新潮流) stalwart Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) endorsed the 10-point consensus, but said there was one flaw.

"As the Republic of China is already a sovereign state, it is misleading for the president to say that he will not -- rather than there is no need to -- declare independence," he said.

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