ATeapotTempest

All Democratic Progressive Party leaders, except its outgoing chairman Yu Shyi-kun and his supporters, are happy that President Chen Shui-bian was able to turn a major crisis into a teapot tempest.They have reason to be happy.Its party national congress has just adopted the Chen version of its “normal nation resolution,” which paves the way for a new constitution the president has promised again and again to give Taiwan before he steps down on May 20 next year.

The controversial resolution was first adopted by the ruling party’s central executive council on August 27.It identifies four major threats Taiwan is facing, China being the largest threat of all, and offers remedies, one of which is to write the new constitution.Buoyed by a successful mass rally in Kaohsiung on September 15 in support of Taiwan’s admission to the United Nations under its name, Yu Shyi-kun started planning to change the wording in the remedy offered in the resolution.He wanted to state in the resolution that “in order to strengthen the Taiwan consciousness, our country should establish a new constitution, using the rightful national title of Taiwan, and declare formally to the international community that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state.”He scheduled the Yu version to be passed at the party congress.

That upset Frank Hsieh’s presidential campaign applecart. The ruling party, that is fighting for the legislative elections on next January 12, might be split right in the middle.The Yu version, which was much more to the liking of the hardcore independence activists who form a majority, might pass the party congress.Fortunately for Hsieh, Yu was indicted for corruption in connection with the misuse of his expense account.Hsieh, also investigated on similar charges, was absolved, however.Yu had to resign but insisted that he see to it the congress adopted his “Taiwan independence” edition.

Then came the man of the hour to the rescue.President Chen tamed the wild Yu by offering his own version that is, well, a play of words.Chen wanted to declare in the resolution that “Hence Taiwan has to join the United Nations and the World Health under its name, to complete the rectification of names to Taiwan at an earliest possible date, to establish a new constitution, and to hold at an appropriate time a referendum to manifest that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state.”As a first step, Chen plans to call a referendum on Taiwan’s accession to that world body under its name alongside the presidential election on next March 22.

Though not completely mollified, Yu had to give up his last-ditch self-defense.He left office despite tongue-in-cheek calls for him to stay on.He did not play host at the party’s founding anniversary reception on Saturday and refused to preside over the congress a day later.

Inasmuch as Beijing is concerned, the Chen edition is just as bad as the Yu version.They were six of one and half a dozen of the other.Jia Qinglin, one of the top four Beijing leaders, has warned that the new move in Taipei is “pushing the situation in the Taiwan Strait into a period of high danger.” DPP leaders are happy too prematurely.What they think a moderate stand on Taiwan’s independence is unlikely to benefit them in the coming elections.

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