Taiwan President Renews Call for New Constitution
Chen reiterated his support for a new constitution after his Democratic Progressive Party scored an unexpectedly strong victory in weekend elections for the National Assembly, an ad-hoc body formed to amend the current constitution.
He said the new constitution would lower the voting age to 18 from 21, assure rights for aborigines and laborers, and give a constitutional basis to the government's Human Rights Committee.
Chen was speaking at a commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the first political prisoners to arrive at Taiwan's Green Island during the island's martial law era.
He had earlier back-pedalled on the issue to ease tense relations with opposition parties, saying he would amend the existing constitution rather than write a new one.
The newly elected National Assembly is set to decide on amendments that would allow a public referendum to approve a new constitution. However, analysts say the threshold for approval is almost impossibly high at 50 percent of eligible voters.
Constitutional re-engineering is a politically sensitive issue as Taiwan's constitution was written in China and brought to the island by the Nationalists in 1949, when they lost a civil war to the communists.
Beijing considers a new constitution to be tantamount to a dangerous push for statehood by Taiwan, even though Chen has repeatedly pledged that any changes would not involve a new name, territory, or other sovereignty issues.
The constitution states that Taiwan's official name is the
Republic of China and its territory includes Taiwan, mainland China and Mongolia.