Fri, Nov 28, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet considering whether to try to veto new referendum law

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Disappointed by version of the Referendum Law (公民投票法) passed by the legislature yesterday, the Cabinet said shortly before midnight last night that it would try to make up for the deficiencies in the law and that it was still mulling whether it should try to overturn the legislation.

"Although we know it would be difficult to overturn the law -- because the pan-green alliance is in the minority -- we must do whatever we can to harness public support to pressure the legislature to redress this faulty referendum law," Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chai-lung (林佳龍) said shortly before midnight.

"The version of the law that was passed today has already created so many controversies. Its articles are contradictory and it also violates the spirit of the Constitution," he said. "Today's legislative processes -- dominated by the pan-blue alliance -- were an injustice and will disgrace Taiwan in the eyes of the world."

Yesterday morning, Premier Yu Shyi-kun told reporters that the Cabinet would be left with no choice but to overturn the legislation if it finds the law hard to implement.

"History will judge the wisdom of opposition lawmakers if they dare to hinder the nation's democratization," he said.

The opposition-dominated legislature passed only two clauses proposed by the Cabinet, with the rest of the approved bill being from their own version of the legislation.

Yu also vowed to honor President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) pledge to push forward holding the nation's first national referendum on or before next March's presidential poll if the legislature failed to pass the Cabinet's referendum draft into law.

The Constitution mandates that if the government wants to overturn a law or resolution passed by the legislature that it deems difficult to implement, the Cabinet must send a request to the president within 10 days of receiving the written text of the law from the legislature.

If the president agrees with the Cabinet, he must then send the request to the legislature. Lawmakers are required to reach a final decision within 15 days of receiving the request. If lawmakers fail to reach a final decision before the deadline, the passed law or resolution automatically becomes invalid.

If more than half of the legislature vetoes the Cabinet's request, the Cabinet must accept the law or resolution, which would then go into effect three days after it is promulgated by the president.

If lawmakers are upset by the Cabinet's attempt to reject a law, they can then call for a no confidence vote against the premier. However, a petition to call such a vote must be endorsed by one-third of lawmakers. A no-confidence vote must be called within 72 hours of the petition being filed and the vote should be cast with signed ballots.

If more than one-half of the lawmakers vote in favor of the no-confidence motion, the premier must resign within 10 days and request the president to dismiss the legislature. If the no-confidence motion fails, lawmakers cannot petition for another no-confidence vote against the same premier within one year.

Commenting on China's claims that it would "react dramatically" if the legislature passed a referendum law without restrictions, Yu said that China was simply afraid of Taiwan's democratization.

"Democratization is a global trend and no one can stop or deny it," Yu said. "Instead of verbally intimidating us and meddling in our domestic affairs, China should have pondered why it's still not a democratic country and how to become one in the near future."

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