Thu, Jul 17, 2014 - Page 3 News List

DPP mulls independence clause

FREEZE ENOUGH:In response to protests, Chen Zau-nan said that the nation has been independent ever since it began democratic elections, so declaring it is not an issue

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Activists hold a sign reading “Don’t abolish the independence clause” in front of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Taipei headquarters yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Debate among Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members over whether the party should freeze the Taiwan independence clause in its charter arose again yesterday ahead of a party congress to be held on Sunday.

A group of pro-independence advocates expressed strong opposition to a proposal to freeze the clause by protesting in front of the DPP’s headquarters in Taipei yesterday and called for the proposal’s initiators, former DPP legislators Julian Kuo (郭正亮) and Chen Zau-nan (陳昭南), to resign from the party.

Chen submitted a petition, drafted by Kuo, on June 19 that calls for the party to freeze the clause during the congress, saying that it would help the DPP regain power in the 2016 presidential election.

The proposal has drawn mixed reviews from DPP members, with some submitting a suggestion that the party implement its independence clause.

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) addressed the issue during a recent meeting with foreign journalists, saying that reworking the party charter was not a priority and consensus-building on the topic could be a long process.

DPP headquarters did not respond to yesterday’s protest.

However, Chen responded by reiterating that the nation has long been a sovereign and independent country since its president and its legislature are democratically elected, adding that a declaration of independence was not an issue.

“If [the protesters] called for the establishment of the Republic of Taiwan [ROT], then they should try to amend the Constitution. And they should ask Tsai Ing-wen why she said during her [2012] presidential campaign that ‘Taiwan is the Republic of China (ROC) and the ROC is Taiwan,’” Chen said.

The past three DPP presidential candidates — former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Tsai — did not include the establishment of a ROT, which is clearly stated in the independence clause, as part of their campaign platforms, Kuo said.

“That tells us that the clause about establishing a ROT was only nominal,” Kuo said.

Meanwhile, another proposal is likely to come up at the congress.

DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) yesterday said that she planned to propose that the party implement another of its controversial resolutions — the 2007 resolution on making Taiwan a “normal country.”

In response to questions from reporters, Hsieh yesterday said the independence issue was bound to be complex because it depends how one interprets or defines “Taiwanese independence.”

While some viewed Taiwan as a sovereign and independent country, others argue that de facto independence is lacking, “so it really depends on how you define independence,” Hsieh said, adding that all controversial proposals would require advanced discussions.

DPP officials who are familiar with the party congress process said that it could be technically difficult for the party to reach a consensus on the proposals because of time restraints.

The congress’ primary agenda is the elections of the party’s Central Executive Committee and Central Standing Committee, so there would be little time left to discuss the proposals, the officials said.

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