Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Analysis: Chen's republic idea gets the cold shoulder

NOT NEW Analysts and politicians said that the president's suggestion had been raised before and stood little chance of success if it involved constitutional changes

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) idea of establishing a "Second Republic" is not a new concept, unless it includes the enactment of a new Constitution, analysts said yesterday.

Chen brought up the idea of a "Second Republic" at a birthday party held for former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) on Sunday.

Without elaborating on what he meant, Chen said he wished people would spend some time thinking about whether a "Second Republic" was a good idea and if it was suitable for Taiwan.

Koo was first to suggest the idea of a "Second Republic," proposing to freeze the Constitution of the Republic of China and enact a new one. Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) also mentioned the idea in his book Asia's Strategy, published in 2000.

Chen's proposal, however, was not well received by either his own party or the opposition.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) dismissed it as Chen's "personal opinion," saying that "the issue is not urgent for Taiwanese people."

The Taiwan Solidarity Union questioned Chen's motive, saying that the proposal was a political consideration and merely a slogan aimed at getting pro-independence voters to support the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidates for the year-end Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections.

DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) described the "Second Republic" idea as "a new term that was ambiguous," and suspected that Chen made the proposal to pave the way for his continued involvement in politics after finishing his presidential term.

The "Generation Forum," a group of young party members established by former director of the DPP's Information and Culture Department Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成), issued a statement on Monday, saying that it was not only unfeasible but also unnecessary to freeze the current Constitution.

Political leaders who propose constitutional reform that ignores reality would be considered by the group as an attempt to sabotage the constitutional re-engineering project, the statement said.

Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深), deputy chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society, said yesterday that a "Second Republic" was not a new concept because the country had already entered the "Second Republic" phase when Lee abolished the Temporary Provisions Effective during the "Period of National Mobilization for the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion" (動員勘亂時期臨時條款) on May 1, 1991.

"Since then, Taiwan has recognized China as a separate nation and has itself been an independent nation," he said.

Chen Yi-shen called Chen's proposal "weird," because if a new constitution was enacted, it should be called the "Taiwan Constitution" rather than the "Second Republic" Constitution.

Taking into consideration the fact that the DPP does not enjoy a legislative majority, Chen Yi-shen said that the odds of passing legislative amendments touching on politically sensitive issues were slim unless the precondition for the "four noes" pledge no longer existed

The "four noes" refer to the pledges the president made in his first inaugural speech.

According to the pledges, as long as China does not threaten to use military force against Taiwan, Chen promised that he will not declare independence, hold referendums on the nation's statehood, enshrine the "state to state" concept in the Constitution, change national symbols nor seek to abolish the National Unification Council and unification guidelines.

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