Cablegate: Media Reaction: Dpp's Draft Constitutional Reform
DE RUEHIN #3453 2780852
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050852Z OCT 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2496
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5743
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6958
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 003453
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - DAVID FIRESTEIN
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: DPP'S DRAFT CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies on October 5
printed special cover pages or reported on the front page the
victory of Taiwan-born New York Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming in a
major league playoff opening game. On the political side, most
major dailies highlighted criticism by DPP heavyweights, such as
Premier Su Tseng-chang, against the party's draft constitutional
reform. The dailies also carried stories in page two on Deputy U.S.
State Department Spokesman Tom Casey's comment on the U.S. position
toward President Chen's commitment to the "Four No's." And
according to a [pro-unification] "United Daily News" story datelined
from Washington, sources said it was clear that the United States
had sent messages to Taiwan through different channels and demanded
that Chen not "play lawyer" in his attempt to make major
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" noted that for the DPP to propose a
major constitutional reform at this moment was like committing
collective suicide. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post" said
that Chen Shui-bian's proposal for constitutional reform will only
worsen Washington's distrust of him without relieving him from the
pressure to step down. End summary.
A) "The DPP's Urge to Commit Suicide"
Columnist Antonio Chiang commented in the mass-circulation "Apple
Daily" [circulation: 500,000] (10/5):
"... The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is still the ruling
party. However, it has long lost its sense of responsibility as a
government because of a lack of confidence. The DPP's draft
constitutional reform is an indication of a kind of urge to commit
"The DPP government is now in precarious times. While the party
should be striving for its existence and survival, its leadership is
actively promoting its blueprint for constitutional reform with the
knowledge that the party is facing a critical life-and-death moment.
There is not yet a consensus within the party over the reform, not
to mention a ruling party - opposition accord. In light of the
Anti-Bian movement, there is no chance for the reform to succeed.
But the party center is treating it as an historical mission. It is
as if the draft must be put forward in order to frighten people.
"Bian has already lost his presidential authority. Promoting a new
constitution has been one of his political promises. But Bian
himself knows very well that his proposal for constitutional reform
at present will never be realized. It is one thing that the party
center does not want to win public support. But why does it want to
turn the poisonous promise made by Bian into an historical mission.
Such a move is no less than sacrificing the whole party for one
single person. The move is more incomprehensible than collective
B) "Chen's Proposition for New Constitution Just a Hoax"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (10/5):
"... The United States government has also expressed concern over
President Chen's plans to overhaul the Constitution. U.S.
Department of State Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey issued a warning in
"... The U.S. is Taiwan's staunchest ally. Assistance from
Washington is essential in ensuring Taiwan's success in repelling an
invasion by the mainland's troops. Without U.S. support, the island
can hardly defend itself from a full-scale attack launched by
"... In fact, President Chen himself is probably aware that he was
building castles in the air by proposing the rewriting of the
Constitution. His proposal is aimed mainly to divert attention from
the corruption allegations that have been dogging him and his family
over the few months.
"... The President's call for a radically revised Constitution has
deepened Washington's distrust of him and has caused new tension in
the Taiwan Strait. It has done little to relieve the pressure for
him to step down.