Sun, Jun 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Parties tell US to keep nose out of domestic affairs

INTERNAL DEBATE DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan said that the Taiwanese have the right to voice their opinion in a plebiscite

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ruling and opposition parties were in agreement yesterday that the US should not stop Taiwan from holding referendums to decide matters concerning internal affairs.

Chinese-language newspapers on Saturday reported that in a meeting with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Douglas Paal had expressed opposition to the idea of the country holding plebiscites on domestic issues.

Chen pledged in May to hold two referendums coinciding with the next presidential election on March 18 regarding Taiwan's entry into the World Health Organization and whether construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should continue.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said yesterday he wasn't fully aware of the whole situation, but that it would be fine for the US to pay attention to Taiwan's referendum on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant because it concerns US companies who hold many of the site's construction contracts.

However, Lee said any difference of opinion between the US and Taiwan could be resolved through further communications.

Lee, a former deputy representative to the US, said that US concerns over the referendum are normal because bilateral relations between the US and Taiwan have intensified in a number of areas, including the US' selling of weapons to Taiwan and negotiations over a free-trade agreement.

He also said that a referendum is not a move to promote Taiwanese independence.

Pan-blue leaders also said the US cannot interfere in Taiwan's internal affairs.

"Even though Taiwan's timing of the referendum and the kind of issues discussed should be considered discreetly, Taiwanese citizen still have the right to express their opinions on public policies," PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) also said the right to hold a referendum is the basic right of Taiwanese citizens and cannot be meddled with.

DPP legislative caucus whip Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said a referendum vote is a basic individual right of any citizen in a democratic country, and it is not right for the US to oppose it.

"The US is a democratic country and for years it has held referendums concerning issues of public administration and construction," Chen said. "It is unlikely the US would oppose the idea of a plebiscite."

The DPP will continue to push for draft bills of the referendum law (公投法) or the initiation and recall law (創制複決法) in the legislature in a bid to realize the twin referendums, Chen said.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said on June 14 that a referendum is the direct exercise of civil rights, which can be found in what he claimed the "rights of initiative and referendum stipulated in the Constitution."

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