A "defensive referendum," which President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has pledged to hold on March 20 next year to coincide with the presidential election, does not require the approval of the Referendum Supervisory Com-mittee, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
"Those who have any basic democratic beliefs would not have such reactionary thinking and consider using such a technical problem to prevent the people from exercising their right to direct democracy," Lin told reporters at the Executive Yuan yesterday afternoon.
"I'm calling on those jumping on the referendum train to do as the people demand instead of hijacking the train and going in the opposite direction or even trying to derail the train," he said.
Lin was referring to remarks made by Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who said that the approval of the Referendum Supervisory Committee, which was created by the referendum law passed last week, is necessary if a "defensive referendum" is to be held.
The referendum law empowers the president to initiate a "defensive referendum" to enforce the country's sovereignty when the country faces external threats to its security.
Although the law stipulates that the initiative requires the approval of the Executive Yuan's weekly plenary Cabinet meeting, it fails to specify whether such a referendum needs the approval of the Referendum Supervisory Committee.
Lin said that the clause on "defensive referendums" was a special regulation which clearly stipulates that the issue has to be "handed over to the people," not to the Referendum Supervisory Committee.
Although the Referendum Supervisory Committee was created to screen the eligibility of proposed referendum topics, it does not include the "defensive referendum," he said.
"The law stipulates that the initiation of a defensive referendum requires the approval of the Executive Yuan's weekly plenary Cabinet meeting. Therefore, it does not make sense for the Referendum Supervisory Committee, which is an ad hoc unit and has lower administrative status than the Cabinet, to review and approve the defensive referendum," Lin said.
Time is essential when holding a "defensive referendum," Lin said, and it would be time-consuming if the Referendum Supervisory Committee were to call a meeting to review the eligibility of the "defensive referendum," Lin said.
"What equally worries us is that the committee may become a battlefield for partisan feuding because the committee is composed of political parties in the ratio of the parties' representation in the legislature," Lin said.
Dismissing suggestions that the "defensive referendum" would be a one-off event, Lin quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying that the government can hold such a referendum in response to the cross-strait situation.
Lin also explained why Chen picked March 20 as the date to hold the "defensive referendum."
"I think the public should've asked `why not March 20' instead of `why March 20,'" Lin said. "How come we cannot hold the defensive referendum while China has over 400 missiles targeting us and claims it has the ability to stage an invasion in 2006?"
Besides, the "defensive referendum" would not be held to change the status quo, as the opposition bloc claims, but to maintain the status quo, Lin said.
"Such suggestions of equating the `defensive referendum' to provocation is simply reactionary and overreaction," he said. "While the onus is on the president to ensure the security of the nation and the people, what good does it do to provoke a war across the Taiwan Strait?"
See story: President details missile threat
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
ROAD TO HISTORY: When Lee Teng-hui joined the KMT, the likelihood of a Taiwanese becoming ROC president, much less its first directly elected one, was hard to imagine Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in the farming community of Sanshi Village, Taihoku Prefecture — now New Taipei City’s Sanzhi District (三芝) — during the Japanese colonial era, and rose to become mayor of Taipei and not only the Republic of China’s (ROC) first Taiwan-born president, but its first directly elected one as well. Educated in the Japanese educational system of the time, Lee, who spoke Japanese, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Mandarin and English, won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He earned a bachelor’s