While large-scale renaming and constitutional changes may seem impossible, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) could initiate small-scale renaming programs in the counties and cities it governs to build Taiwanese identity, a professor told a seminar yesterday.
Addressing the limitations of renaming and Constitution-making under the framework of the Republic of China (ROC), Chungyo Institute of Technology professor Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗) said the DPP and pro-independence supporters should “take one small step at a time” due to the difficulty of going up against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-dominated legislature and the ROC system.
“Many people wish to write a new constitution and to rectify the country’s official name to Taiwan, but a more realistic goal would be starting from the little things, such as rectifying street names,” Lo said on the second and the final day of the seminar, which was organized by the pro-independence Taiwan Association of University Professors and discussed the building of Taiwanese identity.
Citing the example of Greater Kaohsiung, where streets named after Chinese cities and politicians were common — such as Chahaer (察哈爾) Street, Shengyang (瀋陽) Street, Jhongshan (中山) Road and Linsen (林森) Road, Lo said the DPP-governed city could try to change their names with an executive order.
The same things could also be done in other places where the DPP governs — Greater Tainan, Yilan County, Chiayi County, Yunlin County and Pingtung County — he said.
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was more ambitious with his goal of “rectification” as Chen tried to change the names of several state-run companies and institutions, including the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, only to see the KMT nullify the changes after Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) won the presidential election in 2008.
Revisiting Chen’s efforts at changing the names, Lo said that Chen might have “picked the wrong targets” and he did so while having to deal with a legislature with a KMT majority, dooming his efforts to failure.
Given the controversy, sensitivity and high threshold required, constitution-making or amendment was an even more difficult task, he said.
However, Lo said the ROC Constitution was “out of touch with reality” and should be replaced eventually.
The Constitution was formulated in China without the participation of Taiwanese and it still claims to represent all of China, despite the entire world recognizing the People’s Republic of China as China.
“Now you can still find judicial precedents [in Taiwan] that claim the ‘mainland,’ as well as Mongolia and Hong Kong, as part of the ROC territory. That is how ridiculous the Constitution is,” he said.