Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Jiang blasts DPP over referendum statute proposal

By Alison Hsiao and Rich Chang  /  Staff reporters

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ou-po holds up a sign that reads, “Stop construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant” during a question-and-answer session in the legislature in Taipei yesterday. Chen said he would participate in a hunger strike being planned by former DPP chairman Lin Yi-xiong on Tuesday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday panned the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) plan to table a special statute for a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, saying it was irresponsible, cursory and concocted solely to help the DPP achieve the results that it wants.

The proposed statute would allow a referendum on the controversial project to pass with a simple majority vote. The Referendum Act (公民投票法) requires the participation of half of the nation’s eligible voters, half of whom must cast a “yes” vote for the plebiscite to be valid.

Jiang said the DPP has no “central credo” and takes referendum “as a child’s play.”

“On the one hand, the DPP calls for a simple majority that would leave out the [current] threshold requiring the participation of 50 percent of eligible voters. That would mean that a majority of two people voting yes to halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in a three-people-vote would make the referendum valid — a type of referendum that is nowhere to be seen in the world,” he said.

Accusing the DPP of having “arbitrary, inconsistent” and double standards, Jiang cited another proposal by DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) that would require all agreements signed with China to be put to a “stringent” referendum.

The proposal states that a referendum on a cross-strait agreement would require the consent of three-quarters of the legislators before being put to a vote, and would require half of the nation’s 14 million eligible voters’ affirmative ballots for it to pass.

“It is the most stringent regulation we have ever seen,” he said.

Based on these two proposals, it is not hard to see that the DPP is being arbitrary in dealing with issues about the referendum system, Jiang added.

“There is no consistency in its thinking as it all depends on the issue under debate. When [the DPP] wants a referendum to pass, the threshold should be lowered; when it is a controversial issue that it wants to axe, the threshold should be raised,” Jiang said.

DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) later rebutted Jiang’s comments, saying that Yu’s version was a recommendation by a civil group, not by the party.

Wu added that the civil version’s proposal has a high threshold because cross-strait agreements concern the nation’s sovereignty.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that Jiang’s juxtaposition of the two versions of the referendum were like comparing “bananas and sunflowers,” adding that referendums involving issues relating to sovereignty and to public infrastructure were fundamentally different from the outset.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that Jiang’s description of the DPP proposal as “a child’s play” was designed to mislead the public into thinking that the issue was merely political confrontation between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the DPP.

According to a survey conducted by the DPP on Wednesday and Thursday, 80.4 percent of the public supports holding a national referendum to resolve the decades-long controversy over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, DPP spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said, adding that only 12.7 percent opposes the proposal.

The survey also found that 79.2 percent of respondents in New Taipei City and 85.8 percent in Taipei agree that a referendum should be held to determine whether the plant should continue, he added.

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