The Presidential Office’s rejection of a proposal to amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to take into account political talks with China is indicative of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) vacillating attitude toward the issue, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
The DPP made the remarks after the Presidential Office rejected DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposal that would make it necessary to get a mandate through a referendum before the Executive Yuan could push for political talks with China.
Tsai had hoped her proposal, which she put forward on Friday, could be included before the end of the current legislative session. The proposal also stated that the conclusion of any talks should be decided through a referendum as well.
In response, Presidential Office spokesperson Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) that night rejected Tsai’s request for a meeting on the issue, saying that “it is unnecessary.”
Fan Chiang said the Referendum Act in its current form is sufficient for the issue in question and would encounter no difficulties, adding that the government would not propose any amendments to the act.
Fan Chiang said there was also no need to arrange for a meeting between Ma and Tsai, saying there would be televised platform presentations for the presidential candidates next month in which Ma, who is seeking re-election, and Tsai, who is the DPP’s presidential candidate, would be able to fully express their ideas and policies.
On the issue of whether the Referendum Act has other clauses that need to be amended, Fan Chiang said the Presidential Office would respect the opinions of the public. Unless the public reached a full consensus, there would be no rash proposal for amendments to laws, he added.
DPP spokesperson Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) yesterday said that while Article 16 of the Referendum Act stipulates that the Legislative Yuan can propose a referendum and Article 17 of the act says that the president can also propose a referendum on defense matters, it does not contain an article that stipulates that when the nation’s sovereignty status is facing change, voters can decide to proceed with the change through a referendum.
Therefore, it is the DPP’s view that the government’s administrative departments are obliged to subject negotiations to a public referendum, Liang said.
“The people of Taiwan have the right to decide their own future, and if President Ma truly thinks that any cross-strait peace accords need to be subjected to a referendum, then he should support the inclusion of the clause into the Referendum Act,” Liang said, adding that such a clause should clearly limit the responsibility and obligation of the president and the government’s administrative authorities.
DPP spokesperson Chuang Ruey-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said that according to a cable released by WikiLeaks, former Control Yuan president Fredrick Chien (錢復) told the US in 2009 after attending the Boao Forum in China that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Wang Yi (王毅) told him: “We’ve done a lot for Ma [Ying-jeou], so it’s time for Ma to do some things for us. The upper echelons of Beijing wishes that Ma would convey in a more precise manner that Taiwan and China is ‘one China.’”
Looking at the language in the cable, it was not difficult to understand why Ma is bringing up such an issue at this juncture, Chuang said.
Pointing to Premier Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) remarks on Friday that any cross-strait peace agreement would be signed in accordance with the Guidelines for National Unification (GNU) between Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, and the territory “outside the free area” — China — Liang said Wu’s statement revealed what Ma truly has in mind.
“Although Ma said the signing of a cross-strait peace agreement has nothing to do with unification, in accordance with the GNU’s description, a peace agreement is what the GNU designates as the ‘long-term unification by negotiation’ phase,” Liang said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer
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