Tue, Jul 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan already independent, Cabinet says

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

There is no need to hold a referendum on the nation's sovereignty because Taiwan is already an independent sovereign state, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

"If we have to hold a referendum on the nation's sovereignty, it'll only be on whether Taiwan wants to unite with China, not whether Taiwan wants to unite with China or declare independence, because we're already an independent sovereignty," Lin said.

The government will hold a referendum on sovereignty only when China has the intention to use military force against the nation or local politicians propose to unite with China, Lin said.

"While we hope the issue of the referendum will focus on public policies, the guideline to holding a referendum on the nation's sovereignty is based on the `five-no's' pledge made by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in his inaugural address in 2000," Lin said.

The so-called "five no's" are: no to declaring independence, no to changing Taiwan's formal name, no to enshrining "state-to-state" in the Constitution, no to endorsing a referendum on formal independence and no to abolishing the National Reunification Council or the National Reunification Guidelines.

The pledge, however, has one condition: that the Chinese Communist Party regime does not use or intend to use military force against Taiwan.

The Cabinet has sent the draft bill of the initiative and referendum law to the legislature for review and approval. Lawmakers, however, are deadlock over what issue a referendum should cover.

In addition to the Cabinet's proposal, there are at least five other versions awaiting review at the legislature.

Responding to KMT and PFP lawmakers' proposal to enact a referendum law by this month and hold the nation's first referendum next month, Lin said that the government needs between three to six months' time to prepare for the holding of a referendum.

"As it's serious and inviolable to exercise the right of referendum, we don't think it's appropriate to rush it," Lin said, adding that the result of the referendum is as important as the process.

According to Lin, it would cost the government between NT$100 million and NT$200 million to hold a referendum. The money could come from either the Cabinet's emergency fund or the annual budget of the government agency proposing the holding of a referendum.

Responding to public pressure, opposition lawmakers have launched a signature drive to request the legislature hold an additional special session to review referendum bills after the legislature agreed on June 21 to a DPP proposal to hold a special session to review six bills aimed at reviving the economy.

Although the Cabinet welcomes the opposition's proposal, Lin said that the Cabinet hopes the legislature gives priority to review the six economic bills during the additional four-day session that begins on Friday.

"Our stance on the matter is clear. We don't care when or whether the additional special session is held because we respect the final result of the cross-party negotiations," Lin said. "We'd really hate to see the review and final approval of the six economic bills be interfered or even crowded out during this special session if another special session request is eventually granted."

Lin said the Cabinet will express its wish to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

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