Sat, Sep 10, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Lies, damned lies and KMT `truths'

Thursday's comments by the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) legislative caucus cause a severe philosophical headache. There are, proverbially, three categories of untruth: lies, damned lies and statistics. The KMT's manipulation of the the results of last year's referendum on the purchase of anti-missile technology involves the misuse of statistics to disseminate damned lies. So into which category does it fall, or is there a whole fourth category of untruth of its own: KMT statements?

The KMT's argument is that the proposal to purchase PAC-3 missile batteries was defeated in the referendum and according to the Referendum Law (公投法) the issue cannot be put before the people again until 2007, so a fortiori a budget for the purchase of the weapons cannot be passed.

This is not just rubbish of the sort we expect from this source, it is a dangerous lie that is making every single resident of Taiwan significantly more unsafe for longer than they need to be by delaying weapons purchases essential for the nation's defense. Let us be clear: For all of the perhaps frivolous language, this is absolutely no laughing matter.

So what is the truth? In March last year, 7.5 million people voted in the referendum -- 92 percent of which voted for the arms purchases, while 8 percent voted against. The referendum was not, however, considered to have passed because the law requires that more than 50 percent of eligible voters agree to the proposal. This meant that for a referendum to be considered a valid test of public opinion, half of Taiwan's 16 million eligible voters would have to vote either yes or no. Not only did not enough people support either outcome, not enough voted to even make a valid decision possible.

It should be remembered that this was a deliberate strategy of the pan-blue camp. Having been outfoxed by the government over the holding of the referendum in the first place, it encouraged its supporters not to vote in the referendum in order to ensure that the referendum simply failed to produce a result.

It takes an astonishing twisting of the truth therefore to come to the KMT's present position that the vote on the missiles was "defeated" in the referendum. For it to have been defeated, about 8 million people would have had to vote no. How many people did vote no? Some 581,000.

The KMT has deliberately tried to confuse two issues: the referendum's failing to be valid and the defeat of the referendum proposal.

Since the referendum was not valid, it cannot bind the government to any policy in any way. If the KMT wants to think of the referendum as valid after all, then it appears that Taiwanese who care about the issue overwhelmingly want the anti-missile weapons. We could argue that those who didn't vote simply don't care. The pan-blues might call this intellectually dishonest, to which we could cynically reply that "what's sauce for the goose ...." But of course we don't have to.

The referendum was not valid. This is a fact, not a piece of politically motivated obfuscation. An invalid referendum, just like a law that fails to pass, binds nobody's hands.

We could of course add that the referendum was on the topic of the purchase of more anti-missile weapons, and point out that those under current consideration had been requested and approved long before the referendum by the KMT itself. But comparing the KMT in the days of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) with the bunch of sniveling scumbags on China's payroll today is a futile exercise.

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