Taiwan needs new constitution, says former Premier

William Lai addressed the Taiwan New Constitution Foundation on Wednesday, Jan. 23

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File photo: William Lai

File photo: William Lai (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- At the year’s first gathering of the “Taiwan Constitution Foundation” (台灣制憲基金會), former Premier William Lai gave an address in which he declared that “the time is now” for Taiwan to introduce a new national constitution.

Stating that more and more people are in favor of constitutional reforms for Taiwan, Lai also emphasized that addressing the issue of updating or replacing the constitution has been a long standing platform of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Lai proposes a public referendum for citizens to vote on whether or not to amend or replace the country’s founding document. According to Lai, more people than ever before are supportive of altering the constitution to better reflect Taiwan’s existence as an independent nation.

Lai made three major points in his address to the foundation, reports UDN.

The first is that since the current constitution was formulated in China, under a different historical situation, it is not suited to context and needs of Taiwanese society.

The second point made by Lai, was that in the past, President Lee Teng-hui made efforts to promote constitutional amendments on seven occasions, however no suitable political process had yet been developed for such an amendment to be made. This situation resulted in the effort being stalled for over 20 years.

Lai’s third and most important point is that, Taiwan and her people deserve to be the master of their own destiny, and the current language of the constitution reflects a perspective and ideology of “Greater China.”

This contradiction has stymied progress, and become an obstacle to unity in Taiwanese society, according to Lai.

Currently there are two major obstacles facing Taiwan and efforts towards constitutional reform, says Lai, the lack of a cohesive national identity, and Taiwan’s entrenched culture of “party first” politics, which do not serve the national interest.

In light of the changes made to Taiwan’s referendum law in recent years, Lai says the time has come for the public to push for a new constitution, and that the effort must transcend political parties for the future of Taiwan.

A new constitution would serve to safeguard the rights of Taiwanese people, make government more efficient, and to unite the people of Taiwan, argues Lai.