Tue, Jun 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

DPP promises referendum push

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The DPP yesterday reaffirmed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) pledge to hold a referendum on domestic issues, saying that since the opposition parties' heads also expressed their support for referendums recently, the circumstances for carrying out referendums are favorable.

"Even KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), whose parties have continually blocked any possibility of holding a national referendum or plebiscite, now have vowed to support the realization of a referendum," DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said.

"Such a change means that everyone must now realize we need a new mechanism to cope with the current chaos at the Legislative Yuan," Lee said. "If we want to avoid further misunderstandings, a national referendum can be held after the presidential election next March and before the new president's inauguration on May 20."

Lee said that according to DPP surveys, over 65 percent of the population support holding a referendum on the issue of joining the World Health Organization (WHO).

"So it's the time to adopt the final step of realizing the referendum," he said.

Lee stressed that President Chen had pledged since his inauguration speech that the DPP government will not execute any referendum on the issue of independence or reunification with China, adding that Chen's policy to launch a national referendum related to public affairs has not violated his promise.

Some local media said last week the US government put pressure on Taiwan to put a halt to any referendums and Douglas Paal, director of the American Institute in Taiwan even directly expressed opposition to Chen on this issue during a private meeting at the Presidential Office. Chen denied the report on Sunday

DPP Legislator Parris Chang (張旭成), who is visiting Washington as a member of a legislative delegation, told reporters that according to his recent communication with the US government, the US is not happy to see the referendum policy.

"The officials I have contacted from the AIT and the Department of State all expressed a negative attitude toward Taiwan's referendum policy," Chang said.

"We believe that the US government's action was made due to pressure from China," he said, "because the Beijing authorities have always expressed their anxiety about the referendum issue in Taiwan."

"We will explain the real content of Taiwan's policy to the US government but at the same time, we also have to make a proper protest to the US government for interfering in our domestic affairs," Chang said.

"We hope that the US will not violate its democratic and human-rights principles to obstruct Taiwan's movement to launch the referendum," he said.

Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday reaffirmed the government's right to exercise a national referendum on entry to the WHO and nuclear-power issues when he received members of pro-independent academic groups at the Presidential Office.

"President Chen said that the referendum is a basic human right, which should not be blocked by any person or political party," said Chen I-shen (陳儀深), deputy chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society.

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