Mon, Feb 12, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Groups to establish civic awareness organization

NEW ALLIANCE Members of the new Citizen Front will include professors and leaders of organizations such as the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of nearly 20 academic and civic groups have announced that they plan to establish a non-governmental organization tomorrow that seeks to raise "civic awareness" among the public and to promote legislative reform.

The organization, called Citizen Front, will be a new alliance composed of academics and key figures in social movements, including Chien Hsi-chieh (簡錫土皆), executive director of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan; Chu Tseng-hong (朱增宏), president of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan and Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成), chief executive of the Generations Forum, a group composed of younger members of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Other members of Citizen Front include pan-green professors who called for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) resignation last July, including Fan Yun (范雲), associate professor at National Taiwan University and Lee Ting-tsan (李丁讚), a sociology professor at National Tsinghua University.

Hsieh Tung-ju (謝東儒), who is secretary-general of the League of Welfare Organizations for the Disabled, said yesterday that the league had not made a final decision about joining Citizen Front.

According to Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔), a staffer at the Peacetime Foundation, Citizen Front is aimed at bringing the nation closer to the civil societies found northern Europe, where politicians have to meet strict moral and ethical demands from the public.

"The difference between Citizen Front and Citizen Watch [another civic alliance that examines the legislature's performance] is that the former hopes to not only watch over legislators but also offer an ideal legislative prospect," Shih told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Shih said Citizen Front hopes to establish "values that are worth pursuing" and that the organization plans to hold a series of conferences between next month and May as a first step in the process.

Seven conferences will be held to discuss topics such as the nation's environmental problems, government corruption and cross-trait relations under the premises of peace and democracy.

"Taiwanese people do not have enough awareness as citizens," Chu said in a telephone interview yesterday. "People only get to know the government on the surface because their understanding of the government is usually limited as a result of political wrangling [between the pan-green and pan-blue camps]."

Jou said that professors had suggested that the organization recommend outstanding legislative candidates for the nation's political parties before their primary elections.

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