Mon, Apr 16, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Constitution a starting point for talks: Hsieh

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh speaks in Taipei yesterday. Hsieh said the large number of candidates for the Democratic Progressive Party chairmanship is healthy, although it does suggest there is no obvious leader in the party at the moment.

Photo: CNA

The Republic of China (ROC) Constitution could serve as a basis for the development of domestic consensus and ending partisan bickering, even if people do not agree with everything in the Constitution, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.

“I am making this proposal because the Constitution is the foundation of a sovereign and independent country,” Hsieh said at a press conference held to informally promote his recently published book Taiwan Next (不一樣的台灣).

The Constitution offers a platform that includes such constitutional essentials as freedom and equality, Hsieh said, adding that these could provide an “overlapping consensus” that different political parties could accept.

That did not mean everyone has to agree with everything in the ROC Constitution, because people were always going to find things to disagree about, he said.

“In Taiwan’s case, it could be the territory of the ROC. In Japan’s case, it could be Article 9 [which prohibits maintaining an armed force with the ability to make war]. However, we do need a starting point for domestic political dialogue,” Hsieh said.

In his book, Hsieh proposes replacing the so-called “1992 consensus,” which he said should not be the only vehicle for the promotion of cross-strait ties, with a constitutional consensus.

“One China with different interpretations” could be replaced by “constitutions with different interpretations,” Hsieh added.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) says the “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit agreement reached in 1992 between Taiwan and China on the “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” concept, which it says promotes the development of cross-strait relations.

The DPP rejects the notion that any such consensus exists.

The KMT won the presidential election on Jan. 14 by transforming the political factors that underpin cross-strait relations into economic factors — a tactic designed to cover up its poor record of governance, Hsieh said.

The five-man race in the election for a new DPP chairperson on May 27 was “a healthy development,” Hsieh said, adding that there was no clear-cut frontrunner for the position.

Hsieh, 65, who has been hosting a weekly radio talk show since losing the 2008 presidential election, is scheduled to interview all five candidates, starting tomorrow with former Tainan county commissioner Wu Huan-chih (蘇煥智).

Hsieh, who served as DPP chairperson from 2000 to 2002, said he had no desire to run for the chairmanship again.

Meanwhile, he has scheduled a press conference for today to address the recently announced electricity price increases.

The KMT has said electricity prices must go up now because of Hsieh’s decision to freeze price during his tenure as premier from February 2005 to January 2006.

The KMT had deliberately misconstrued his policy, which demanded that Taiwan Power Co lower its reserve capacity rate from 20 percent to 16 percent, which would have allowed the company to cut costs while prices remained the same, Hsieh said.

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