Change flag, anthem: Bo Yang

ACTIVIST: As someone whose views are being solicited on constitutional revision, the former political prisoner weighed in on the nation's symbolic accouterments

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 3

Senior Presidential Advisor and human rights writer Bo Yang (柏楊) yesterday suggested that the country abandon the Republic of China (ROC) flag and revise the lyrics of the national anthem, which are strongly associated with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Bo made the suggestion yesterday in a meeting with Presidential Office Secretary-general Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who paid Bo a visit to solicit the veteran human rights activist's opinion on the government's plan to revise the Constitution. It was the first in a series of visits by Su to a variety of opinion leaders.

The visits are seen as preparatory work for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) project to revise the Constitution.

Speaking in support of revising the Constitution, Bo said that the ROC flag should be replaced with the "five-color," striped flag which was in use when the ROC was first established in China. That flag features five horizontal stripes -- red, yellow, blue, white and black.

"The ROC's original flag is the five-color flag, which represents ethnic harmony and cooperation among the five major ethnic groups in China. However, the national flag was changed to the current one after the [KMT] regime regained power by succeeding in the Northern Expedition in 1927.

"I suggest we give the current flag back to the KMT," Bo said.

In addition to changing the flag, Bo urged revising the lyrics of the national anthem, which say "The Three Principles of the People our party's aim shall be."

Bo said "our party's aim shall be" (吾黨所宗) should be changed to "our people's aim shall be," (吾民所宗) as "the party" refers to the KMT only.

"The New Party, People First Party and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may not necessarily believe in the Three Principles of the People. But, if everybody agrees on them, we might have to change the wording to `our people's aim shall be' to avoid ideological prejudice," Bo said.

Commenting on the controversy surrounding whether Chen should revise the constitution or simply create a new one, Bo said that in either case the government has to take on the issues of national security and internal stability.

"The disputes spawning from rewriting the Constitution have already put Taiwan's national security under threat and exacerbated the ethnic tensions.

"The DPP has to recreate a brand-new election culture [to redefine its relationships with its political rivals]. The winners should not be the king, with the losers treated like bandits. Instead, the winners should try to make friends with the losers, who should give righteous suggestions to the ruling party," the 84-year-old Bo said.

He advised the DPP administration to treasure the nation's hard-won democracy, which is still in its infancy, and not to act with recklessness at the expense of democratic achievement.

"Taiwan's democracy is like a newborn baby. The problems it has encountered are like measles. And no matter how ugly this baby is, we still have to give it meticulous care.

"It needs to grow up, but everything depends on how much space it has, on whether the country's opposition forces, as well as China, are willing to give Taiwan a chance," Bo said.

Bo, a veteran human rights activist and writer who was jailed for almost 10 years for writing scathingly about the KMT, also stressed to Su the importance of enshrining the spirit of human rights in a new or revised constitution.