Mon, Jan 31, 2011 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Frank Hsieh explains his ‘constitutional consensus’ proposal

Former premier Frank Hsieh caused a stir with his proposal to use a ‘constitutional consensus’ as the new basis for cross-strait dialogue. In an interview with ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporters Huang Tai-lin and Vincent Y. Chao on Tuesday, Hsieh went into greater detail on his idea. This is the second part of the interview

Huang Tai-lin and Vincent Y. Chao

The way I see it, we must have at least 65 percent or 75 percent of the population united before Taiwan can be stabilized. The current 50-50 divide we see today is a situation where even one bullet can change everything. This reality is detrimental, where Taiwan cannot be stable.

I want to provide the base for Taiwan to be stable, a method that will give us the energy to replace the KMT and give Taiwan a method to correct injustices. Only then will we have the ability to make these necessary changes, otherwise what can we do now with the 50-50 split?

Everybody is afraid of losing their votes — look at the KMT in the past few weeks, afraid to provoke anger from public servants. Everybody is afraid of losing that critical 2 percent of the vote. This is where Taiwan is not normal and down this path Taiwan is only waiting for the day when Beijing takes over.

TT: Since your ideas involve the concept of a consensus with not just pan-green voters, but also with pan-blue ones, what has the response been like?

Hsieh: My strategy isn’t to gather the acceptance of KMT politicians like [Legislative Speaker] Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). What I instead hope to see is broad acceptance of it from the public. I want to break the gridlock between pro--independence advocates and supporters of the status quo.

Polls show that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the public support the “status quo.” Some say this can go as high as 60 percent or 70 percent. We have to think about how we are going to acquire their support.

So, you can see that what I’m trying to do is bring us out of this, to give us a wide range of support. Of course, there is going to be some criticism — I mean [KMT Legislator] Chiu Yi (邱毅) said my ideas were even more “pro--independence” than before — but if both sides are attacking me, it probably means that I have achieved some sort of middle ground.

And only with this middle ground, can we attempt to broaden our consensus.

TT: Do you feel you would be better equipped to handle your proposal if you were to assume some official role, possibly as -president, in future?

Hsieh: Well, I’m still looking at the situation right now. Ideally, I would want someone else to do this. So I’m hoping that somebody can bring this up as part of a comprehensive cross-strait policy, even President Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)].

TT: What happens if nobody comes out to raise this comprehensive cross-strait policy?

Hsieh: Under such a condition, perhaps we find something close. Of course anything is possible. I know [people] want to know if I will run for [the presidency] in future. I think all sorts of possibilities could happen. I believe politicians shouldn’t make an absolute denial on many things; I mean, [three] years ago I said that I would back out of politics. That [pledge] has troubled me since.

Nevertheless, my first priority is perhaps to see someone else take the helm of this policy. I do think anyone that aspires to be president should have some courage in this aspect; to convince the people that don’t agree with them to forge a greater consensus and bring Taiwan forward.

TT: While you desire to bring Taiwan forward, how will you respond to critics who, noting the increasing Taiwan identity (台灣意識), perceive your proposed “constitutional consensus” (憲法共識) as bringing Taiwan back to the China framework? Critics say what you are doing is once again enveloping Taiwan in the shell of the ROC.

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