Fri, Dec 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Former vice president Annette Lu to propose Taiwan neutrality referendum

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Former vice president Annette Lu, center, yesterday in Taipei urges President Tsai Ing-wen to sign and promulgate the amended Referendum Act as soon as possible at a news conference held by the Peace and Neutrality for Taiwan Alliance.

Photo: George Tseng, Taipei Times

The Peace and Neutrality for Taiwan Alliance, led by former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), yesterday stated its intention to hold a referendum for a neutral Taiwan in tandem with local elections next year, urging President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to sign and promulgate the amended Referendum Act (公民投票法) as soon as possible.

Lu told a news conference in Taipei that she believes that Taiwan must pursue neutrality and should not “sit idly by and wait for the end to come,” while sandwiched between China and the US.

We must make our own path and with the amendment of the Referendum Act, it is possible for the 23 million people of Taiwan to, with collective public wisdom, formulate the correct sort of public consciousness, Lu said.

Our path would be one of peaceful neutrality, to focus on humanitarian efforts, to befriend the US and the Japanese while making peace with the Chinese, Lu said, adding that the ultimate goal is to establish friendly and egalitarian relations with other nations around the globe.

The proposal has more than 20,000 supporting signatures and was drafted in accordance with the original Referendum Act, the alliance said.

With the amendments passed on Tuesday, the proposal has reached the revised threshold.

Under the amended act, the threshold for initiation of a referendum was lowered from 0.005 percent of the electorate in the most recent presidential election — or about 90,000 people — to 0.0001 percent — or about 1,800 — while the second-stage signature threshold was dropped from 5 percent — or 900,000 voters — to 1.5 percent — or about 280,000.

The passing requirement has been amended to a simple majority vote that would see any referendum act passed if supporting votes exceed nay-saying votes and comprise one-quarter — instead of half — of the eligible voting population.

Once Tsai signs the bill, the alliance plans to submit its proposal to the Central Election Commission, Lu said, adding that the plan is to gather 280,000 signatures within six months and hold the referendum alongside next year’s nine-in-one local elections.

Former deputy minister of foreign affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) said that the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” policy and the US “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” policy is a new balance of terror.

The neutrality of Taiwan would not only maintain its safety, but also diffuse tension between the two world powers, a contribution to both Taiwan and the world alike, Kao said.

Former Nantou County commissioner Peng Pai-hsien (彭百顯) said he supports the “neutral Taiwan” concept out of concern that Taiwan’s national identity has been divided by potential resumption of hostilities with China.

In addition, Lu said that she is planning a forum to be held in March on the possibility and effects of Taiwan becoming neutral.

More than 30 experts and academics are to be invited from more than 10 countries, including the US and Japan, Lu said, adding that she is also trying to invite Chinese experts to the forum.

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