Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Blue camp shows its hypocrisy

Using their dominance in the legislature, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) on Tuesday forced the legislature's Procedure Committee to pass a draft amendment to Article 17 of the Referendum Law (公投法). The draft would shift the power to approve a defensive referendum from the president to the Legislative Yuan.

To protest the KMT and PFP legislators' attempt to expand the legislature's power, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) walked out of the committee meeting. Presidential Office officials said the draft would turn the "bird cage"referendum law into an "iron cage" law.

Proposed by KMT Legislator Kao Yu-jen (高育仁), the amendment specifies that an emergency decree must be issued and approved by the Legislative Yuan before a defensive referendum can be held. The president would have to issue an emergency decree before holding a defensive referendum and the decree would have to be approved by the legislature within 10 days of its being issued.

The legislature has become a constitutional monster since the abolishment of the National Assembly. That is why the pan-green camp has moved several times to halve the number of legislative seats, yet the move has been blocked by pan-blue legislators.

With the KMT and the PFP trying to boost their power by placing all referendum powers in the hands of the legislature, they are openly trampling on Taiwan's democratic reform.

They claim they are proposing the amendment in order to highlight the illegality of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) March 20 referendum. It's ironic that while they are accusing Chen of using the referendum to attract votes, Lien on Tuesday launched a signature drive to gather support for a year-end referendum on the integration of Taipei County, Taipei City and Keelung City.

If, as the blue camp claims, Chen's defensive referendum really is a matter of campaign manipulation aimed at attracting votes by playing to voters' Taiwan awareness, then the blue camp's referendum plan is even more of an attempt at manipulation designed to win votes from Taipei and Keelung. The blue camp knows it is weak in southern Taiwan. Its leaders are therefore trying to establish a power base in northern Taiwan. They explain their campaign manipulation by saying that the integration referendum movement has been initiated by the public and thus is a legal referendum.

In view of the KMT's and the PFP's behavior, voters do not know what to say. Regardless, even the KMT-PFP alliance wants to launch a referendum. Although the referendum issues are different, and though they are proposed by different political camps, it shows that referendums have already become a constitutional mechanism widely accepted by both government and the opposition. This is a significant victory in the development of Taiwan's constitutional reform, and means that there is no turning back on the issue of referendums.

Regardless of whether voters support the integration of Taipei City, Taipei County, and Keelung City, we are pleased to see that the KMT and the PFP are proceeding with their plan in accordance with the Referendum Law. This newspaper's pro-referendum stance does not change as referendum initiators change.

Nevertheless, we have to alert readers and ask them to condemn the blue camp's hypocritical position on the referendum issue. On the one hand, they cook up charges against Chen's referendum. On the other hand, they plan to hold a referendum to attract votes. Let us hope readers can see through this.

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