Sun, Jul 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Chen urged to use `defensive' plebiscite

VOCAL CRITICISM Members of a number of civic groups accused the Referendum Review Committee of defying public opinion over its rejection of a DPP proposal

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A pro-independence group yesterday urged President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to initiate a "defensive referendum" to determine the official name of the nation.

The Taiwan Society made the call yesterday following the Referendum Review Committee's decision on Friday to reject the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) request to hold a referendum on whether to apply for UN membership under the name "Taiwan."

DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun filed the proposal with the Central Election Commission (CEC) on May 21. The CEC did a primary review and evaluation of the proposal and then submitted it to the Cabinet's Referendum Review Committee for final authorization.

The opposition-controlled committee rejected the DPP-sponsored initiative 12-8 on Friday, with some committee members arguing that such a referendum was unnecessary as pushing for the country's inclusion in the UN is already government policy.

Seven committee members immediately tendered their resignations following the announcement of the decision on Friday afternoon.

To counter the committee decision, Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), vice chairman of the Taiwan Society, yesterday proposed that Chen mount a "defensive referendum" on the UN bid if the DPP loses its appeal with the Cabinet's Appeal Committee.

Yu said on Friday that the DPP would lodge an appeal this week against the committee's decision.

Article 17 of the Referendum Law (公民投票法) empowers the president to initiate a referendum concerning national security if he or she deems the country is threatened by a foreign force or the nation's sovereignty is at risk.

Such a proposal would not need to obtain the committee's approval, but it would need the approval of the Executive Yuan.

Referendum Review Committee vote and composition

Negative vote: 12

Members recommended by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT):

Kao Yuang-kuang (高永光), committee chairman and dean of National Chengchi University's College of Social Sciences;

Huang Kuo-chung (黃國鐘), former KMT legislator;

Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光), political science professor at National Taiwan University;

Steve Hsieh (薛香川), member of National Policy Foundation;

Liao Fung-te (廖風德), director of KMT's Organization and Development Committee;

Chu Hsin-ming (朱新民), National Chengchi University professor;

Chang Chiung-ling (張瓊玲), public administration professor at Chinese Culture University;

Chou Yu-jen (周育仁), public administration professor at National Taipei University and member of the KMT's Central Disciplinary Committee;

Jan Chung-yuan (詹中原), public administration professor at National Chengchi University

Members recommended by the PFP:

Ma Chieh-ming (馬傑明), PFP deputy secretary-general;

Francis Hu (胡祖慶), political science professor at Tunghai University;

Members recommended by the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union:

Yang Tai-shun (楊泰順), political science professor at Chinese Culture University.

Affirmative votes: 8

Members recommended by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP):

Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Presidential Office deputy secretary-general;

Tsai Hsien-hao (蔡憲浩), member of the DPP's Central Disciplinary Committee;

Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), Academia Sinica Assistant Research Fellow and political analyst ;

Lo Chih-cheng(羅致政), political science professor at Soochow University;

Li Ming-juinn (李明峻), deputy secretary-general of the Taiwanese Society of International Law;

Huang Yu-lin (黃玉霖), chairman of Taiwan Peace Foundation;

Chiang Kai-shih (江蓋世), former DPP Taipei City councilor;

Chang Chieh-lung (張捷隆, absent), Yilan Community College president ;

Members recommended by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) :

Chien Lin Whei-jun (錢林慧君), TSU legislator

At the press conference, members of several civic groups, including the Taiwan Society, the Northern Taiwan Society and the Taiwan United Nations Alliance, also accused the committee of defying public opinion over its rejection of the DPP's proposed referendum.

Calling the committee "unconstitutional," Chin called on the DPP administration to request a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices to rule on the legality of the committee.

Chin said any UN bid would be doomed if the country used the name the"Republic of China" (ROC) because the People's Republic of China became the representative of China at the UN in 1971 when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime was "kicked out" of the organization.

Convenor of the society's law and politics department Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深) told the press conference that he was not surprised by the committee's decision because it is made up of members in proportion to the seats each political party has in the legislature.

As the DPP has vowed to appeal, Chen Yi-shen said that if it wins, and two referendims are held, it would be interesting to see whether the public would support the DPP's referendum or the KMT's.

However, he questioned what good the DPP's proposal would do for the country even if it won public support because the country's name in the Constitution is still the ROC, he said.

Janice Chen (陳昭姿), a member of the Taiwan Society said she would like to know whether the review committee was against holding a referendum or against using the name "Taiwan."

"They could have voted no in the referendum if they were against using the name Taiwan to join the UN," she said. "If they were against the referendum itself, I'd be very curious to know whether they will refuse the KMT's proposal."

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