Mon, Mar 08, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Make your voice heard, `yes' side argues

REFERENDUM DEBATE A TSU legislator urged people to send a message about China's missile threat, while a former Control Yuan member said the vote was unconstitutional

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lo Chi-ming (羅志明) squared off against former Control Yuan member Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬) yesterday in the third televised debate on the anti-missile referendum.

Lo said the referendum gives Taiwanese people the chance to make the international community hear their voice.

Yeh, meanwhile, accused President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of violating the Constitution to satisfy his political interests.

The referendum will ask voters: "If China refuses to withdraw the missiles targeted at Taiwan and does not give up its military threats, do you agree that the government should buy more anti-missile weapons and equipment to strengthen Taiwan's defense capabilities?"

Lo said, "If the result of Taiwan's first referendum is invalid [due to less than 50 percent of eligible voters casting ballots] or if half of voters choose not to enhance the military's anti-missile capabilities, then how could Taiwanese people expect the international community to assist Taiwan in defending itself against China in the future?"

"Those who oppose the referendum use all-out efforts to censure President Chen but say nothing to blame China," Lo said. "They just can't see any threat from those 500 missiles as well as its huge armaments expansion; rather, they point the finger at Taiwan's democratic development."

Yeh, also a former DPP legislator, insisted that the referendum is unconstitutional.

"According to the ROC Constitution, even though the president has the right to issue an emergency decree, it still needs the approval of the Legislative Yuan," Yeh said.

He said Chen's moves will lead to a dictatorship.

"Minister of Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) told the public that the referendum's result will not change the government's budget for anti-missile equipment. Why should the government implement this referendum?" Yeh said.

"The ruling DPP and President Chen just try to sway the public by using emotional discourse, such as by saying the referendum is a universal value and a mechanism to secure Taiwan's sovereignty. However, they avoid rational discussion," Yeh said. "How could the president ignore the spirit of the Constitution?"

When asked by moderator Lo Chih-cheng, a political science professor at Soochow University, whether the missile threat shows China's intention to invade Taiwan, Yeh said Taiwan should rely on a political strategy to protect itself rather than on an arms race.

"I believe that China has no capability and inclination to attack Taiwan for the time being," Yeh said.

Lo Chi-ming said that a US evaluation of China's military has already warned that Beijing is prepared to launch military action against Taiwan at any moment.

"Moreover, even the advertisements of the People's Liberation Army clearly used a slogan about liberating Taiwan as soon as possible," Lo said. "How could anybody ignore China's intention?"

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