Mon, Jun 15, 2009 - Page 1 News List

DPP begins bid to collect signatures for referendum

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday commenced its bid to collect 100,000 signatures in the first stage of a plan to call a referendum on the government’s planned economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

“We plan to have 100,000 individuals as our vanguard,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told a press conference yesterday. “They will not only add 100,000 signatures to our petition for a referendum [on the ECFA issue], but these 100,000 will also each lobby 10 people to support the petition for the referendum proposal as well, amounting to 1 million signatures for a referendum.”

Tsai said the DPP planned to complete the collection of 100,000 signatures by the end of next month, and then send them with the referendum proposal to the Central Election Committee’s Referendum Review Committee.

The Referendum Act (公投法) stipulates that the signatures of 0.5 percent of eligible voters — approximately 80,000 people — must be collected to apply to hold a referendum.

In the second application stage, 5 percent of eligible voters — approximately 800,000 — must sign the petition before the proposed referendum can be screened by the Referendum Review Committee.

“We realize the current referendum law is flawed, with such a high threshold for a referendum, and that collecting 1 million signatures is a big challenge to the party. However, we want to tell the public that via the campaign we still have a weapon we can use to confront the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] and the government. People have the right to decide significant policies and their future by themselves,” Tsai said.

“Even if we are unable to gather enough signatures to force a referendum, the accumulation of lots of signatures expresses the public’s power,” she said.

Saying that signing an ECFA would change Taiwan’s future politically, economically, socially and culturally, Tsai told the press conference that it would be sad if in a democracy such a significant proposal could not be decided by the people.

“Through this campaign we hope to establish a standard that the government is obliged to have any significant national affairs decided through referendums, particularly cross-strait affairs which have caused controversy, confrontation and anxiety in society,” she said.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said on numerous occasions that he is opposed to an ECFA referendum, saying it was unnecessary because no political items would be included in the proposed agreement.

Also See: FEATURE: Academics dread long-term impact of ECFA

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