Sat, Nov 29, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Angry DPP looks to scrap new law

CONTROVERSIAL LEGISLATION The party is looking at holding a referendum on the newly passed referendum law, saying the version that was passed is too weak

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators Lo Chih-ming, left, and Chien Lin Whei-jun express their dissatisfaction yesterday with the Referendum Law passed on Thursday. The signs read, ``Sorry, voters,'' and ``Reforming the legislature and halving legislative seats.'' The container in Lo's hand reads, ``Dissolving the legislature.''

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

Upset with what it sees as a watered-down Referendum Law (公民投票法), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) plans to request a constitutional interpretation of the law and to launch a referendum drive to have it vetoed.

The Cabinet was also considering rejecting the referendum law.

The DPP legislative caucus lodged protests with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) late Thursday night after the law was passed, accusing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) lawmakers of secretly replacing certain clauses of the bill during its third reading.

The DPP said the new law infringes on the Constitution, arguing that the Referendum Supervisory Committee, which would oversee the topics allowed for referendums, deprives people of the right to initiative referendums.

The DPP legislative caucus called the legislation process illegal and said it will file a constitutional interpretation of the legislation.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday said, "It is a regret that the referendum legislation was processed in a cursory manner. Provisions No. 2, No. 14 and No. 28 of the law go against the Constitution and the DPP legislative caucus will request a constitutional interpretation."

DPP Legislator Chen Chun-hsin (陳忠信) said yesterday that provision 28 of the law was redundant as it stipulates that people can only ratify a constitutional amendment once 75 percent of legislators approved the bill and the bill was subsequently approved by a meeting of the National Assembly.

"Provision No. 2 of the law enables the people to vote in a referendum on a constitutional amendment, but provision No. 28 makes an additional requirement that the legislative body and an extraordinary National Assembly also approve it. It's redundant," Chen said.

"The pan-blue alliance admitted privately the awkwardness of the provisions, but was unwilling to make corrections to them," Chen said.

Responding to the DPP's accusation of a biased ruling on Thursday's reading of the law, Wang admitted yesterday there were flaws, but said the mistakes were corrected immediately.

In response to the Cabinet's proposal to override the Referendum Law, KMT caucus whip Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said yesterday that, given the dominance of pan-blue lawmakers, it would be easy for them to veto the Cabinet's proposal to reject the bill. The Cabinet's plan would be vetoed if half of the lawmakers disapprove of it.

In addition to requesting a constitutional interpretation, DPP headquarters yesterday proposed initiating a referendum drive to veto the law.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the party will initiate a referendum drive based on the new law, which requires at least 75,000 people to bring the proposal forward and 750,000 people to endorse the plan.

Lee said if the Referendum Supervisory Committee approves such a referendum proposal, the referendum to toss out the referendum law could be held before the next presidential election, scheduled for March 20.

However, Lee said, if the referendum overseeing body set up to screen the topics allowed for a referendum rejects the proposal, the referendum could instead coincide with the Legislative Election at the end of next year.

"The opposition alliance passed a ridiculous referendum law. The DPP will not rule out all means possible to reject such a consequence," Lee said.

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