Thu, Feb 16, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Wang lauds apparent KMT policy shift

POLITICAL FUTURE The legislative speaker said he was happy to see that Ma Ying-jeou considers independence an option, although the PFP warned of `consequences'

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Policy Committee executive director Tseng Yung-chuan, second left, and party caucus whip Pan Wei-kang, second right, tell reporters that although the KMT respects the people's right to choose between unification, independence and maintaining the status quo, they strongly advise against choosing the independence option.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) acceptance of independence as a possible choice for the nation was yesterday lauded by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who said that he was gratified by the development.

Wang, who competed with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for the KMT chairmanship last July, had in the past claimed that Taiwanese independence should not be ruled out. Some pro-unification elements within the party had used the comments to criticize Wang during the chairmanship campaign.

"I am happy to see the inclusion [of de jure independence] as one of the choices," Wang said.

"The inclusion at least shows that [Ma] has recognized the facts. In a country that has democracy and freedom, the people have the right to decide the nation's future, even though now is not the right time to decide on our ultimate goal, be it independence or unification," he said.

However, Wang questioned the decision-making process, saying that Ma should have discussed the matter within the party before making his policy known to the public through a newspaper advertisement. The ad in question was run on the front page of the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) on Tuesday.

It said that, "the KMT firmly believes that, in keeping with the spirit of democracy, there are many options for Taiwan's future, be it reunification, independence or the status quo. It is necessary that the choice be made by the people."

"I was not involved in making the decision. If this really is the KMT's policy, Ma should put the issue on the agenda of the party's decision-making mechanism," Wang said.

But not every KMT heavyweight was pleased with the implication that the KMT accepted independence as an option.

Former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said that he has been against including the option of independence in KMT policy from the beginning.

It was absurd that Ma would include this position among the KMT's policies, Lien said.

The KMT's policy revision could damage its cooperative relationship with another member of the pan-blue alliance, the People First Party (PFP), which is opposed to Taiwanese independence.

PFP Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), director of the party's policy department, said: "Although the PFP and KMT used to be allies in the legislature, the KMT must now take full responsibility for the consequences of assenting to the idea of Taiwanese independence."

Chang declined to spell out what he meant by "consequences," adding that "the PFP is still hoping that the KMT will explain whether it supports Taiwanese independence or not."

"Given our long-term cooperative relationship, the KMT should have told us before it decides to implement such an important policy. And now we wish they would explain it," Chang said.

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