Mon, Mar 19, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Group pushes new constitution

CONSENSUS An NTU professor claimed that the public favors constitutional reform and said that more than 15 different related amendments or new drafts already exist

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Until China and Taiwan agree on their political relationship through a democratic process, the present Constitution should cease to apply and a "second republic" constitution should be enacted, a local think tank said yesterday.

The pro-independence Taiwan Thinktank made public a draft of the "second republic" constitution penned by Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), a professor at the National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of National Development; Chen Tsi-yang (陳慈陽), a law professor at National Taipei University; and Chen In-chin (陳英鈐), a law professor at Ming Chuan University.

Chen Ming-tong said he was inspired by former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), who has been pushing for what he called a "second republic" constitution, while leaving the constitution's details open to interpretation.

Koo's proposal received a response from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who said future constitutional reforms could take the form of a "second republic."

Chen Ming-tong claimed that a public consensus to push for constitutional reform has been reached and that there are more than 15 different versions of constitutional amendments or new constitution drafts had been proposed by different groups.

"The `second republic' constitution provides another alternative, but it is not written for election purposes but for the sustainable development of the country," he said.

The think tank's version declares that Taiwan and China are two different countries and that Taiwanese have the final say on the country's future.

The preamble of the draft states that the Republic of China (ROC) was founded in 1911 and relocated to Taiwan in 1949 after the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The draft states that jurisdiction of the ROC covers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and offshore islets. Any change to the political relationship between ROC and PRC must be decided by negotiations between the two sides based on equality and peace, pending the approval of Taiwanese.

Until the negotiations are complete, a "second republic" constitution, or Taiwan constitution, must be enacted and the ROC Constitution should cease to apply, the draft states.

Chen Ming-tong said that the "second republic" process is open to all possible options in terms of the country's future as long as the process is open and democratic.

"If China wishes to assimilate Taiwan, they have to convince Taiwanese in a civilized way rather than military intimidation or oppression," he said.

Although Chou Jih-shine (周繼祥), chairman of the Asia-Pacific Elite Interchange Association, said that he recognized the necessity of addressing the historical relationship between Taiwan and China, he was pessimistic about the prospects of the draft constitution's passage in the legislature.

Chou said that not only could pro-independence groups find the draft unsatisfactory, but that pro-unification supporters might also deem it unacceptable.

Yen Jiann-fa (顏建發), a professor at Ching Yun University's Euro-Asia Research Center, agreed, saying that the US government might also have concerns about the proposal, which touches on politically sensitive issues.

The draft constitution also proposed to change the government system from semi-presidential to parliamentary, downsize the five-branch government to only three branches, let legislators assume half of the ministerial positions, to strip the president of powers but extend the presidential term from four years to six and to eliminate the position of the nation's vice president.

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