DPP must recognize Constitution, Hsieh says

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Apr 23, 2007 - Page 3

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who is vying for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential primary, yesterday said he believed the party should recognize and accept the Constitution before seeking to amend or abolish it.

Hsieh, who has been under attack from the DPP's other three presidential contenders and their supporters for a previous comment that a "one China" framework exists in the Constitution, defended himself to reporters before giving a speech at a Taipei church yesterday.

Hsieh told reporters that the dispute about whether or not the party should accept the Constitution, in which the nation's title is the Republic of China (ROC), had been settled by the party when it passed its Resolutions on Taiwan's Future in 1999 during former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung's (林義雄) term.

The resolutions say that "Taiwan, although still called the Republic of China according to the current Constitution, does not belong to China. Any change to the status quo and independence must be decided by the Taiwanese people through a referendum."


"In the past, we said Taiwan was not yet an independent country and that we needed to establish the Republic of Taiwan, but now we say Taiwan is an independent state and is called the ROC by the Constitution. We are actually temporarily using the name `ROC' for our own purposes," he said.

"How are we going to run for the presidency if we do not recognize the title? My fellow DPP members all forget to mention that our 26 [24] diplomatic allies also refer to Taiwan as the ROC," he said.

He said the current debate centered around whether the party should instead deny that "ROC" is the nation's name. He said the party should seek to amend the Constitution no matter how difficult it is, because 70 percent of the population identify themselves with Taiwan, not China.

"I have explained my stance on the `one China' framework issue before. I can't help it if my rivals do not understand my idea," he said.

Hsieh said the DPP should win 75 percent of the vote in next year's presidential election and should examine itself if it secures a lower percentage.


When asked for comments on the President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent endorsement of the Suao-Hualien Freeway, Hsieh called Chen's support for the construction project "correct."

"The president promised to build the freeway [in his re-election campaign platform] to promote regional development. He also made the promise out of the request of local residents [in eastern Taiwan]. However, the construction project should pass the ecological review first," he said.

Hsieh said, however, during his term as premier, he believed it would be "very difficult" for the project to pass the review.

As a result, he proposed an alternative to building the freeway, the "Pioneering Project of Eastern Taiwan," which recommended relying on subsidies to promote industries in the east that reflect local culture, he said.

"The Democratic Progressive Party should promote construction in eastern Taiwan," he said. "We should not give the impression to people in eastern Taiwan that we treat them badly."

"Since eastern Taiwan has a small population, it would be very easy for the NT$90 billion [US$2.7 billion] budget allotted to the Su-Hua Freeway project to `vanish' [be put to other uses] if the government can find an excuse," he said.