Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday told lawmakers that amending the Constitution should not be carried out in haste because it is a big project that concerns all the people.
"We should not forget that China has never renounced its intention to take Taiwan using force. To recognize ourselves as a nation and make ourselves stronger should be our focus instead of [amending the Constitution]," Su said. "We should not make any changes to the Constitution without first consulting the general public, the Taiwanese people."
The premier made the remarks while addressing the legislature yesterday morning. His words came in response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), who asked Su for his comments on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "second republic" proposal -- to amend the Constitution and announce Taiwan an independent country.
Chen mentioned the idea at the 80th birthday celebrations of former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) last Sunday evening.
At the party, Chen also cited Koo's 1996 article entitled "Establishing A Country of Our Own," in which Koo wrote that Taiwanese should establish a country by using the nation's "sorrowful history" as the "backbone" in order to rebuild people's confidence. Chen said that establishing an independent country was his dream and resolution.
Su also told lawmakers it was his belief that it would not be easy to secure the public's consent to amend the Constitution at this moment because the issue concerns the relationship between Taiwan, China and the US.
"As premier, I have never tried to stop anybody talking about amending the Constitution. We accept different voices. But personally, I am the premier of the Republic of China and it is not appropriate for me to comment on the issue. That will not change," Su said.
The premier also reminded lawmakers not to forget about the ever present threat posed by China.
"They [the Chinese government] will never give up trying to make us part of them. We should recognize ourselves as a country and do our best to defend ourselves even though we have never considered ourselves as being their enemy," Su said.
New Party Legislator Wu Cherng-dean (吳成典) challenged the premier and said that Taiwan cannot continue to treat China as the enemy because Taiwan's development definitely concerns China.
"There will be a lot of advantages for us if we can handle the cross-strait relationship well," he said.
The premier said that being careful was the bottom line to handling China.
"There are still lots of different ways for [China] to annex us," Su said. "We cannot provide them with them any opportunities."