Mon, Feb 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Koo stays true to political principles of a lifetime

A long-time independence activist, Senior Presidential Advisor Koo Kwang-ming believes that President Chen Shui-bian paid too high a cost for his 10-point consensus with People First Party Chairman James Soong. Vowing to resign from his advisor post to protest the president's compromise, Koo talked with ``Taipei Times'' reporters Melody Chen, Joy Su and Lindy Yeh the day after the Chen-Soong meeting. He shared his insights into Taiwan's status, its relationships with China and the US, and its growing closeness with Japan

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National Policy Advisor Koo Kwang-ming gestures during an interview with the Taipei Times on Friday

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: Considering the Taiwanese people's divided views about Taiwan's status and the need to heal feuds between political parties, do you agree that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) compromises in his consensus with People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was the way to usher in inter-party cooperation?

Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏): Before last year's presidential election, Chen said he would introduce a new constitution in 2006 and enact it in 2008. After the election, he changed his position and said he would amend the Constitution instead.

Similarly, before the legislative election he pledged to rectify Taiwan's national name and make a new constitution. Since that election, however, he has talked more about inter-party cooperation.

My view is that Chen's pledges before these elections are things he sincerely wants to pursue. His post-election remarks are part of his political strategy.

But Chen has to keep his promises. This is the way to show he is a responsible leader. It is useless to talk about his ideals. He needs to be able to carry out the policies he said he would implement.

Chen's greatest shortcoming is that he withdraws whenever he cannot move forward. We can do this with our life plans, but in politics you cannot. If you cannot achieve what you want, you have to stay where you are. You wait until your time comes.

Chen is the leader of the country and his moving forward and backward affects the society. He is most preoccupied with performance when he makes decisions. This is his great weakness.

He thought about performance when proclaiming he would bring a new constitution to the nation, rectify Taiwan's national name and establish a state. When he thought the time was right to pursue these policies, he went forward and talked about these ideas all the time.

He should stick to the ideals even though sometimes the situation does not allow him to further these policies. But he would not stay where he was because he had no space to perform there. He withdrew.

His meeting with Soong received widespread media coverage. Newspapers reported on it day after day. Does the government need inter-party cooperation to launch policies? We have to re-examine this idea.

It is true that during Chen's first term, many new policies were blocked because the legislature would not pass them. But it is very wrong to say that the government can do nothing because it lacks inter-party cooperation.

Last year, Taiwan's economic growth rate reached 5.9 percent. The legislature first cut the government's proposed budgets but then passed them.

It is illogical to say inter-party cooperation is needed because the governing party holds fewer seats in the legislature than the opposition. I don't agree with the idea; we need to correct this.

Some people have said that since Chen can't run for re-election, he is now trying to establish his place in Taiwanese history. I can't stand this to hear this. Three years later, there will be no more President Chen. He is too proud to try to pursue a place in history. We are but glimpses in time.

Chen and Soong looked gratified after achieving their consensus. But the cost of reaching that consensus was too high.

TT: Do you regard Washington's adjustment or abandonment of its "one China" policy as a necessary step for the normalization of Taiwan's sovereign status and its relations with other countries?

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