Sat, Nov 29, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chen says direct democracy hasn't arrived yet

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Legislative Yuan has passed the Referendum Law (公民投票法), but President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that there is a long way to go toward establishing the mechanism of direct democracy.

"Many in the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] have made great efforts to realize the Referendum Law," Chen said while inspecting a construction site in Taoyuan County.

"Since I declared in June that I would call a national referendum on three topics, many [pan-blue] politicians have criticized me and tried their best to oppose the idea," Chen said.

"They told the public that the referendum is equal to independence and will only bring war," Chen said. "Now, they have followed my idea and they became the main power that facilitated the passage of the Referendum Law."

The president said that although the DPP is not satisfied with the new law, the government is confident that obstacles on the road to referendums will be removed soon.

"People will realize which party is against democracy and reform," Chen said.

The rival pan-green and pan-blue camps both decided to hold campaign rallies in Taoyuan County this weekend.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) plans to elaborate on the pan-blue alliance's referendum platform.

"Lien will announce that the KMT-PFP alliance plans to hold five national referendums on the same day of the presidential election next March," said KMT Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄). "Those referendums will address ethnic solidarity, national debt accumulation, educational reform, increases in National Health Insurance premiums and free trade at the Kaohsiung City harbor."

Lien said the biggest differences between the pan-blue and DPP versions of the referendum bill were that the pan-blue camp wants to maintain the ROC's structure; that its referendum aims to solve people's problems instead of creating problems; and that the pan-blue camp will create happiness for the people. Lien said the blue camp's referendum plan is a boost to national development, unlike the DPP's version, which he called a hurdle to economic development.

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