President Chen Shui-bian (
"Though the third reading of the referendum law (
"According to [the 17th] article -- the president is entitled to initiate a referendum on national security issues whenever the country is faced by an external threat that could interfere with national sovereignty," Chen said. "Therefore, I will ask the government to hold a referendum alongside the presidential election."
As head of state, Chen said he had the obligation and duty to secure and maintain the country's sovereignty, and therefore he must exercise a national referendum on March 20 at the same time as the election to defend Taiwan's sovereignty and safety.
Chen made the remarks when visiting a temple in Taipei yesterday morning. He said he believed that the gods will bless the DPP and assist it in its bid to hold a referendum.
The DPP and the Cabinet severely criticized the watered-down version of the referendum law that was passed by the legislature.
However, Chen said the passage of the law was a success for the DPP as it had realized a long-term goal of the party. He said the success should be attributed to the hard work of many DPP members over many years.
"The passage of the referendum on Thursday night was a historic moment," Chen said. "As a minority party at the Legislative Yuan, we can force the majority to follow our step and, in turn, realize our own goals. Such a achievement can be regarded as a great breakthrough for the DPP."
However, he said he was not satisfied with the content of the law because some articles advocated by the pan-blues had damaged the spirit of direct democracy and even violated the Constitution."
"The public now blames the KMT-PFP alliance for restricting the referendum law and depriving the people of their basic rights," the president said.
"It is impossible to achieve democratic reform in one step, but now we have taken our first step toward a referendum, I pledge that those [politicians] who are anti-democracy and anti-reform will be wiped out soon," he said.
In other news, Chen announced last night that US President George W. Bush had confirmed in an official letter that he supported Taiwan's entry into the World Health Organization (WHO).
"In a letter dated Nov. 18, 2003, President Bush expressed that he supported membership for Taiwan in the WHO. This is a historical first," said Chen, speaking at a dinner banquet held by the Medical Professionals Alliance and a campaign support group.
The letter was in response to Chen's letter to Bush delivered by Academic Sinica Presdient Lee Yuan-tseh (
Chen also criticized Lien's to call at rally in Taoyuan for ethnic reconciliation.
"What ethnic problems do we have in Taiwan? The real problem is with people who do not stand with Taiwan," Chen said.
Accusing Lien of thinking only of his personal advantage, Chen asked, "What right has he to talk about reconciliation?"
See story Lee condemns Referendum Law,