Mon, Oct 09, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Analysis: Yu's raising of sovereignty issue linked to personal goals

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun might have played a key role in the recent spat over proposals to rewrite the Constitution and US concerns that this would amount to changes in the "status quo."

Yu ordered the party to draft a revision of the Constitution's general provisions, which define the country's name, territory and flag, by Sept 20.

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) speech on Sept. 24 in which he mentioned changing the definition of the Republic of China's territory seemed to defy the US' appeals that he stick to his commitments not to permit the constitutional reform process to touch on sovereignty issues.

When Chen indicated that he wanted to wait on the issue -- presumably a result of pressure from the US -- Yu insisted that he move ahead, regardless of reactions within or outside the party.

DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) has said that Yu didn't agree to defer the "pro-independence version" until participants at a meeting on Oct. 2 -- representing Chen, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), and the DPP caucus -- strongly disapproved of his plan.

Yu had initially wanted the "pro-independence version" to become the party's official stance as soon as possible, because he put it on the agenda of the DPP's Central Executive Committee on Oct. 4 with the idea of calling a national convention of the party to finalize it.

In the end, the DPP's Central Executive Committee adjourned without reaching a conclusion on the draft revision because many committee members felt the party would only open itself to attack if it passed the proposal. Yu yielded to the other members on the issue.

A senior party official told the Taipei Times yesterday that Yu's efforts to push the pro-independence version of the constitutional amendment were motivated by his personal ambition.

"The party will have its primary for the 2008 presidential election early next year. His [Yu's] initiative in pursing Taiwan independence could help him score higher in the primary," the DPP official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Ker has said that DPP supporters are more inclined to favor a pro-independence line now -- partly because middle-of-the-road voters feel disappointed after the recent wave of scandals centering on members of the Presidential Office and first family and partly because resentment had been aroused by the anti-Chen campaign.

The DPP faithful believe the anti-Chen campaign is a scheme of the pro-unification camp.

Given the shifts in the the party's political base, Yu's effort to push the pro-independence version of a constitutional amendment has put the premier in an "awkward" situation, the party official said.

The DPP chairman is also believed to be interested in running in the 2008 presidential election.

Su has reportedly tried to find a middle ground between unification and independence on cross-strait issues since he became premier, and Yu was forcing Su to "take a stand" on the issue, the source said.

A second anonymous source told the Taipei Times that a report on the impact of redefining Taiwan's constitutional territory was banned from being distributed to the Central Executive Committee as it enumerated numerous consequences the country would suffer as a result of such a change.

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