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PRESIDENT CHEN VOWS TO PUSH FOR NEW CONSTITUTION IF RE-ELECTED

2004-03-14 16:27:44

    Kaohsiung, March 14 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Sunday that if he is re-elected, he will push for a new constitution to better substantiate the fact that Taiwan is a genuine democracy and that the people are the real leaders of the country when it comes to enacting the nation's fundamental laws.

    Calling the existing Republic of China Constitution "ambiguous both on national identification and governmental structure, " Chen said it is absolutely imperative that a new constitution be enacted for Taiwan.

    He added that if he is re-elected, he will see to it that the new constitution is affirmed by the people of Taiwan in another referendum held in 2006, paving the way for the implementation of the new constitution beginning in 2008.

    Chen made the remarks during his keynote speech to the joint meeting of the World Taiwanese Congress (WTC) and the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations (WFTA), which opened in Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung Saturday.

    Chen said he is encouraged to see that Taiwan's first-ever nationwide referendum will allow the people to voice their feelings about mainland China's missile threat and whether to seek a framework to build better cross-Taiwan Strait interactions to ensure peace.

    Taiwan's historic referendum, to be held on the March 20 presidential election day, is the best gift that he has given the people of Taiwan this year, the president said.

    Chen offered his heartfelt appreciation to the nearly 1,000 WTC and WFTA representatives who have traveled from around the world to Kaohsiung to take part in the annual meeting, and he thanked them for their support of himself and his vice president, Annette Lu.

    In a teleconferenced WTC-WFTA meeting in 2002, Chen recalled, he said that Taiwan and mainland China are "countries on either side of the Taiwan Strait, " based on the fact that Taiwan is a sovereign state and is not a part of the People's Republic of China.

    Chen said he advocated the "one side, one country" concept to firmly express his opposition to Beijing's "one-China" policy and the "one country, two systems" model that mainland China used to take over Hong Kong and Macau several years ago. "Any move that is aimed at changing Taiwan's status quo should be first approved by the 23 million people of Taiwan via a referendum, " Chen argued.

    Chen told his audience that the government decided to push for Taiwan's first-ever nationwide referendum after serious considerations on its importance and necessity.

    Defying Beijing's suppression, he said, the government is determined in carrying out the referendum, adding that, "The harder Beijing's pressure, the firmer is our determination."

    Chen said that participation in a referendum is a basic human right and a demonstration of populist values, adding that the government is advocating the upcoming referendum in the belief that the people are in charge and that the government should trust the people.

    Noting that 165 countries in the world have held 1,523 referendums to allow their people to express their feelings on major issues, Chen asked why there has not been a single referendum yet in Taiwan, a sovereign state.

    Facing the PRC's mounting military threat, including 496 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan and Beijing's refusal to renounce the use of force to solve cross-strait disputes, Taiwan should have the right to free itself from terror and voice its disdain of mainland China's missiles and other forms of intimidation, Chen stressed.

    If he is re-elected, Chen went on, he will also be instrumental in safeguarding Taiwan's economic sovereignty in the international community and facilitate Taiwan's participation in global activities, including membership in the World Health Organization.

(By Deborah Kuo)

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