The Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee yesterday again turned down a referendum proposal by Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China in June last year.
In his third bid, Huang had submitted a referendum proposal asking the question: “Do you agree with the government’s signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China?”
The ECFA, which came into force in September and whose “early harvest” list of items receiving preferential tariff treatment came into effect on Saturday, has been touted as a means to further liberalize cross-strait trade.
However, critics claim it is a trap by Beijing to lure Taiwan into an eventual political merger with China.
Similar proposals were rejected by the Referendum Review Committee on June 3 and Aug. 11 last year on the grounds that the question did not fall under what was permitted in the Referendum Act (公民投票法).
Despite the two previous rejections, Huang submitted the same proposal again last month.
“Supporters and opponents of the referendum proposal debated on whether this proposal was the same as the previous one,” Central Election Commission secretary-general Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐), who doubles as executive secretary of the Referendum Review Committee, said of the two-hour meeting.
“In the end, they put it to a vote and the proposal was turned down by a 10-to-four vote,” Teng said.
According to the Referendum Act, a referendum proposal cannot be made again within three years after it is rejected.
“The rejection shows that the government under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] is against the values of democracy and the will of the people,” Huang said in a statement last night.
“The proposals were endorsed by more than 300,000 citizens and yet the government denies these people the right to speak,” Huang said.
“The government will eventually pay for it,” he added.
“The ECFA will have a huge impact on Taiwan’s economy, politics and society. Government officials — including Ma himself — have always emphasized the importance of the pact,” Huang said. “And yet, the government excludes all forms of public participation in the decision-making. This just isn’t normal [in democratic systems].”