Mon, Jun 23, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Referendums a right, Chen says

TOO MUCH DEMOCRACY?The president and Vice President Annette Lu say no country, not even the US, can deprive Taiwanese of their fundamental right to decide their own future

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH AGENCIES

Vice President Annette Lu shakes hands with guests at yesterday's opening ceremony for a leadership training course for women at the Ketagalan Academy. Lu used the event to state her support for the right of Taiwanese to hold referendums.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday defended Taiwan's right to hold a referendum on its future, saying it is "a basic right that cannot be deprived by anyone."

"As the president, I must safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty, dignity and security and must assert that Taiwan is a sovereign state, not a part, province or state of someone else," Chen said while addressing National Sun Yat-sen University alumni in Kaohsiung.

"Only Taiwan's 23 million people have the right to decide Taiwan's future. Any change to Taiwan's status quo must be approved by Taiwan's people," he said.

"Direct democratic rights, including referendums, are part of our fundamental human rights. I believe those rights can never be deprived, restricted or opposed by any country, government or individual," he said.

Chen's remarks came one day after two Chinese-language newspapers reported that the US has warned Taiwan not to hold a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant or the nation's desire to join the World Health Organization.

The United Daily News and Apple Daily reported on Saturday that Douglas Paal, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said Washington opposed the referendums, planned to coincide with next year's presidential election.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday also said a referendum is a basic human right and a universal value which no country can deprive from Taiwan, including the US.

Lu said she believed reports suggesting the true US position had been misinterpreted.

"I believe a country with high democratic standards like the US would not oppose it [Taiwan's holding a referendum]," Lu said.

She added that Chen had announced the "five no's" after being inaugurated as president on May 20, 2000. The promise included that he would not push for independence, but came with the precondition that China would not use force against Taiwan.

"Please don't forget that there is still such a precondition," Lu said. "If China infringes on such a precondition, the 23 million people of Taiwan could exercise their basic right to hold a referendum," she said.

Lu said the DPP and the Chen administration are evaluating the holding of referendums and have gained the support of opposition parties, which back the rights of initiation and recall as outlined in the Constitution.

Lu made the statements while addressing the opening of a public affairs class for women sponsored by the Ketagalan Institute, a DPP-backed academic organization.

Lu said the inauguration of the class shows that its 22 outstanding women are ready to dedicate themselves to studying issues relating to gender, national identity and ethnicity.

She encouraged women to challenge and analyze male chauvinism and create their own perspectives.

Lu urged members of the class to embrace independence, confidence and determination to face the challenges of modern society.

Former celebrity Chou Dan-wei (周丹薇), now the head of a biotechnology company, and Lin Ching-yun (林靜芸), a well-known plastic surgeon, are among the class' 22 participants.

Also see stories:

DPP, KMT at loggerheads over US policy on holding any national referendums

Editorial: A referendum is essential

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