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Time has come for Taiwan to get new constitution: ex-Premier Lai

2019/01/23 19:13:50

former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德, second right)

Taipei, Jan. 23 (CNA) The time has come for Taiwan to draft a new constitution to solidify national unity and address issues arising from national identity, former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said Wednesday.

"The time has come because more and more Taiwanese people have realized that Taiwan needs a new constitution," Lai said at the opening of the Taiwan Constitution Foundation set up by presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) to write a new constitution for the country.

"The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has long advocated creating a new constitution for Taiwan, and I'm pleased that Koo has taken concrete action to carry out this historical mission," said Lai, who was premier from September 2017 to January 2019.

The country's constitution was adopted in China (in 1947) for China (before the Republic of China (ROC) government relocated to Taiwan in 1949), and it does not fit Taiwan despite being amended seven times since 1996, he contended.

With a Taiwan-centric mindset increasingly taking root among local citizens, the outdated constitution has caused contradictions that have hampered progress and solidarity in Taiwan, Lai said.

Taiwan has faced two major problems in the past -- the lack of a national identity and the inability to forge a political culture that puts national interests above political party gains, he said.

But through the project initiated by Koo that focuses on Taiwan's future and goes beyond the interests of political parties, Taiwan will be able to create a new constitution that better protects the interests of Taiwan's people, ensures the smooth operation of government, and boosts national unity and development, he argued.

The expectations for a new constitution in Taiwan is especially high, he said, because of the increasing threat from China.

Koo, a longtime advocate of Taiwan independence, said a new constitution was needed to assert its sovereignty.

"Taiwan cannot get rid of China's pressure in the international community due mainly to the current ROC Constitution, because it was not created by the people in Taiwan," Koo said.

"The country needs a Taiwan-centric constitution that will enable it to return to the United Nations."

The ROC, as Taiwan is officially known, lost its seat at the United Nations in 1971, and Taiwan has not been able to regain membership since then and remains blocked from participating in its activities because of Chinese obstruction.

The foundation said it will start to promote a new constitution to be written by the people in Taiwan that meets the needs of today's society and fully safeguards Taiwan's sovereignty and the rule of law.

National Taiwan University honorable professor Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧), DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), former New Power Party Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) and social Democratic Party (SDP) convener Fan Yun (范雲) were present at the opening ceremony.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Flor Wang)
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