Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 1 News List

HK shows way to referendum: premier

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The protest in Hong Kong against the special administration's planned anti-subversion law on Tuesday highlighted that the "one country, two systems" policy is unfeasible and that it is necessary and urgent for Taiwan to enact a referendum law, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday.

"The march symbolizes that the basic human rights Hong Kong people used to enjoy before the special administration was handed over to China six years ago were gradually encroached on, and the illusion Hong Kong people have had about the `one country, two systems' has been completely shattered," Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) quoted Yu as saying yesterday morning.

The march also brings out the necessity and urgency of Taiwan's enacting legislation for a referendum, Yu said.

"With the implementation of the referendum law, we don't have to take to the streets to safeguard our freedom and democracy because the legislation would empower the 23 million Taiwanese people to decide on significant national issues via a popular vote," Yu said.

Yu made the remarks during the weekly closed-door Cabinet affairs meeting yesterday morning in response to the largest organized protest in Hong Kong since 1989.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to streets on Tuesday to denounce the Hong Kong government's planned anti-subversion law, which Beijing has been pressing Hong Kong to enact.

The law would be enshrined as Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law, or mini-constitution. While most marchers' prime target was the anti-subversion measure, many others said they were frustrated by the government's handling of the ailing economy and the SARS epidemic, which killed some 300 people in the territory.

As Taiwan has experienced the transfer of power from authoritarian rule to a democracy, Yu said, Taiwanese people can empathize with the feelings of the people of Hong Kong.

"I'm here calling on the nation to fully support the people of Hong Kong's campaign to protect their basic human rights and freedom and to realize the true danger of the `one country, two systems' policy," Yu said.

Yu yesterday also instructed the Mainland Affairs Council to closely monitor the development of Hong Kong's situation and present a response measure as soon as possible.

In addition, Yu requested government agencies concerned to take the initiative to defend the freedom and human rights of Taiwanese people based in Hong Kong.

Briefing Yu about the impact of Hong Kong's planned anti-subversion measures on Taiwan-Hong Kong relations during the Cabinet meeting, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that Taiwan-Hong Kong relations could backpedal if the legislation is enacted.

"It's a serious matter to legislate such basic human rights as freedom of speech, publication, association and gathering," Lin quoted Tsai as saying. "If the anti-subversion law is enacted, it only proves that China cannot keep its promise of maintaining the status quo of the special administration for 50 years." Responding to Yu's request, Tsai pledged to evaluate the situation in Hong Kong.

Also see story:

HK formula is a trap, Taiwan warned

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