On 6 October 1996, the new Taiwan Independence Party was formally established in Taipei in a ceremony attended by 233 founding members. As we reported in the previous issue of Taiwan Communiqué, the original plan was to establish the party on December 10, but the organizers wanted to make a running start, and decided to move up the date. A larger-scale "birthday party" is to be held on 10 December 1996 in Kaohsiung, where a festive swearing-in ceremony will be held for as many as 10,000 new members.
Prof. Lee Cheng-yuan, a member of the prestigious Academy Sinica, was unanimously elected to be the first chairman of the party. Professor Lee gained national prominence in 1991 when he led the successful campaign to abolish Criminal Code 100 -- a left-over Kuomintang sedition statute from the Martial Law period -- because he could no longer tolerate social and political injustice. Now, he decided to help lead the TAIP in order to help Taiwan gain international recognition as a free and independent country.
The Party's vice Chairman is Prof. Lin Shan-tien, who teaches law at National Taiwan University. The secretary-general is a prominent lawyer, Mr. Lee Sheng-hsiung, the former chairman of Taiwan Association for Human Rights. The central governing body is a 12-member policy-making committee.
The Party's main theme is formal independence for the island, and recognition as a free and democratic nation-state by the international community. It insists that Taiwan has the right to join international organizations as a sovereign nation-state and establish diplomatic and economic ties with all nations.
The preamble of the Party Charter states that "...the ultimate objective of the TAIP is to establish a new and independent Republic of Taiwan and to safeguard the rights of the citizens of Taiwan to pursue democracy, freedom, security, justice and well-being."
The Party Charter states that the new Constitution of the Republic of Taiwan will be enacted for the people living in the territory of Taiwan and adjacent islands. It will establish and safeguard a democratic political system that protects basic human rights as well as the environment.
The Party is also developing a policy on a broad range of issues, ranging from economic policy to environmental protection, including opposition to the Fourth Nuclear Powerplant project. The Charter emphasizes that the teaching of Taiwan's own history, geography and its culture will be the focus of the educational system on the island (in the present educational system the students hardly learn anything about Taiwan's history and geography but focus on ancient dynasties of the Chinese Imperial period -- Ed.).
The language and culture of Taiwan's four ethnic groups -- aborigines, Hoklo-Taiwanese, Hakka, and Chinese immigrants who came in the period after 1945 -- will be respected and have equal status. The aborigines will have the right to self-rule in autonomous regions. The legal system will adapted so that women have equal rights protection under the law. The rights of minorities and the handicapped will also be strengthened.
The TAIP will also emphasize "clean politics" and work to rid Taiwan's political system of vote buying and the money politics which characterized the Kuomintang-controlled system.
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