The Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee yesterday again turned down a referendum proposal by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) on the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), despite a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court last month that said the committee must review the application.
“With a nine-to-three vote, the committee has decided to reject the TSU’s proposed referendum on whether the government should sign the ECFA with China based on two major reasons,” committee chairman Chao Yung-mau (趙永茂) said after he walked out of a four-hour meeting.
“The first reason is that the question asked in the referendum and the contents of the petition for the referendum are contradictory, and second, the Referendum Act (公民投票法) stipulates that issues related to tariffs and taxation cannot be decided in a referendum,” he said.
He said the TSU’s referendum proposal asks whether voters agree that the government should have signed the ECFA with China, while in the petition, the TSU asked voters whether they agree with the actual contents of the ECFA that the government signed with China in 2010.
Asked whether the committee has violated the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court by rejecting the referendum proposal, Chao said he did not think so.
“The Supreme Administrative Court wanted us to do two things — to hold public hearings on the referendum and to review the proposal. We did both,” Chao said.
Two years ago, when the Referendum Review Committee turned down the TSU’s referendum proposal on the same issue, the party filed a lawsuit against the committee, questioning the legitimacy of its decision.
Last month, the Supreme Administrative Court handed down its final ruling, which required the committee to make up for some missed steps.
Before the meeting started at 9:30am, about 30 to 40 supporters of the TSU, led by TSU Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉), rallied outside the meeting venue, urging the committee to pass the referendum proposal.
The Referendum Act stipulates that a proposal, after completing the first stage by collecting the signatures of 0.5 percent of the number of people eligible to vote in the previous presidential election, must obtain the approval of the Referendum Review Committee before it can proceed to the next stage, collecting signatures from 5 percent of those eligible to vote. It must then pass a second review before making it to polling stations.
TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) yesterday said his party would file an administrative suit against the commission over its rejection of the party’s proposed referendum on the ECFA.
Huang said the reasons the commission had given for rejecting it had already been ruled by the Supreme Administrative Court as illegal, adding that the contents of the ECFA include commerce and the tertiary sector, which have no connection with issues about domestic tariffs.
“The commission’s reasons simply show that it is rejecting the TSU referendum for the sake of it,” Huang said.
“We will ask the Control Yuan to move for the impeachment of the nine members of the commission who voted to deny the party’s referendum proposal,” Huang said, adding that the party would pursue administrative action against the commission as soon as possible.
Additional reporting by CNA