Lee Teng-hui's vision for reform compatible: aide

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 3

The constitutional reform plan led by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) involves a tension between amending the existing Constitution and creating a new one, and its fate will depend on the political strength the pan-green camp can muster in the next few years, Chen's top constitutional advisor Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧) said yesterday.

Lee, president of the Ketagalan Institute, a training school for future Democratic Progressive Party personnel, said yesterday at a press conference that "it is not impossible to switch from the path of amending the Constitution to devising a whole new constitution if the pan-green camp can win over members of the pan-blue camp after the December legislative elections -- and if Chen adopts an attitude of compromise."

The major differences in the debate over whether to amend the Constitution or create a new one lie primarily in the country's title.

Lee, who was Chen's law professor at National Taiwan University and now his constitutional advisor, said Chen has been keen on constitutional reform and understands the difficulties underlying the process.

"Chen well knows the difficulties in amending the Constitution as it only takes the opposition of a few legislators, that is, one-quarter of them, to veto a constitutional amendment," Lee said.

"He is also well aware of the immediate effect of writing a new constitution, which can't proceed without the green light from our `allies,' such as the US, Japan and the EU, and which might trigger strong reactions from the opposition camp," Lee added. "That's why President Chen so far has remained open to various ideas."

Chen has delegated Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to consult special interest groups and gather opinions while preparing to convene a constitutional reform committee.

Noting former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) personal efforts to create a new constitution through a popular movement, Lee Hung-hsi said that the initiative was not at all at odds with Chen's constitutional amendment program.

"Although Chen has said he won't address the national sovereignty issue in revising the Constitution, if Lee [Teng-hui] is able to generate a lot of support for a new constitution in the future, Chen's position might have changed by then," Lee said.

Regarding structural reform -- whether to establish a presidential or parliamentary system -- Lee Teng-hui said he was opposed to adopting a parliamentary system.