Question of loyalty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2003, 12:00am

What's wrong with Emily Lau Wai-hing's statement?

Recently there has been a lot of debate about Ms. Lau's participation in the seminar held in Taipei by the Taiwan Advocates, a pro-independence think-tank led by former president Lee Teng-hui.

Based on reports in a mainland-edited newspaper and a leading daily in Taiwan, the legislator made a statement at the seminar indicating that she would respect the choice of either reunification or independence by the people of Taiwan.

The important question is: does her statement violate her loyalty oath made in the Legislative Council, of supporting national unity and the 'one country, two systems' policy, as suggested by some pro-China politicians?

One of the arguments made by her supporters is that respect for the Taiwanese people's decision on their future does not necessarily lead to violation of the legislator's loyalty oath because they may choose to unite with the mainland.

This argument is evasive and unconvincing.

An example from daily life can clarify this. A new couple make an oath in church vowing that they will remain together forever. A few years on, the husband wants a divorce. What does it mean if the wife says that he has the freedom to choose and that she respects his decision?

It means that she would let him back down from his oath. It also means that she would accept it whether he chooses to divorce or not. She cannot argue that she only respects a decision not to divorce.

If Ms. Lau chooses to back down from her loyalty oath, she should speak up openly.

VINCENT CHAN, West Kowloon