Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

`Freezing' Constitution wins adherents at forum

SEEKING CONSENSUS Academics debated President Chen's idea of a 'Second Republic' constitution as well as a new proposal made by Koo Kwan-min in an article

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of academics discuss the possibility of delivering a ``Second Republic Constitution'' at a forum held by Taiwan Thinktank at National Taiwan University yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The possibility of achieving a "Second Republic constitution" was the topic of debate at a forum held yesterday by the Taiwan ThinkTank.

The forum was held in response to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) comments on establishing a "Second Republic" that he made in a speech at former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming's (辜寬敏) 80th birthday celebration.

In an article published in yesterday's Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) Koo said he believed the Constitution should be frozen while a new one is written, one that does not touch on "sovereignty." He said freezing the Constitution would be a way of striking a balance between amending and abolishing the Constitution. He said that the US would not have reasons to disagree with the action because freezing the Constitution would not contradict Chen's promises.

Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), a professor at National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of National Development, said he agrees with Koo's idea of freezing the Constitution.

Chen Ming-tong, who is also the convener of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters' constitutional reform department, said unless there is a general public consensus on changing the Constitution's general guidelines, which regulate the nation's name, territory, sovereignty and flag, the "Second Republic Constitution" may skip this part and include a preface that describes the nation's governmental system and current political condition.

He said that amending the Constitution in this way would help avoid touching on controversial political issues and is not a violation of the president's promises.

"In some sense, the `Second Republic Constitution' is a complete set of `constitutional amendments.' It is a tailor-made constitution for the 23 million people in Taiwan but retains the country's name as the Republic of China," he said.

Lo Cheng-fang (羅正方), deputy director of the DPP's Policy Research and Coordinating Committee, said that he agreed to draw upon the party's "Resolution Regarding Taiwan's Future" passed in 1999 as the basis of the foreword of the new constitution.

He said that the "legal relations between Taiwan and China," human rights and system of government should be elaborated in the preface.

Lo said the DPP understands the need to discuss its dream to establish an independent country in the party's constitutional reform proposal, but it also understands it has to come up with a proposal acceptable to the majority of the public.

Chou Yi-cheng (周奕成), executive officer of Generation Forum, an organization of young DPP members said he did not like the idea of freezing the Constitution.

He said given the high threshold required for constitutional reforms to pass, a high level of consensus between both the public and political parties was needed.

"The next constitutional amendment will lead the country to a new republic naturally because of the high threshold and major changes in governmental systems," Chou said, adding that the amendment must be able to break the political deadlock and find out the commonality among the public.

The vice director of Taiwan Thinktank's legal and constitutional study department, Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), said he was also opposed to freezing the general guidelines of the Constitution because the method "revokes the nation's sovereignty."

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