Sun, Jul 06, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Referendum can be a tactical tool

LAWMAKERS CAUTIOUS Several legislators warn that the issue could become a political plaything rather than improve the democratic representative system

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Political parties could abuse the issue of a referendum on unification or independence, a ruling party lawmaker warned.

"Highlighting the unification or independence topic has made the referendum legislation a tool for political tactics by political parties, rather than a real hope to improve the insufficiency of the representative system of a democracy," DPP Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓) said.

The pan-blue camp's turnabout from constant resistance to a referendum to shouting out the need to finalize the legislation soon, as well as the ruling party's u-turn from a low-key attitude towards a referendum on the unification or independence issue to vowing to hold the Fourth Nuclear Plant referendum at all costs, impressed the public like a NBA game, Wang said.

"The truth is, however, that the majority of people are content to maintain the status quo on Taiwan at the moment. Their voices in support of drafting a referendum law must not necessarily be seen as an endorsement for a unification or independence referendum to be held now.

"They understand that declaring independence or unification might be risky for the country right now," Wang said.

But the pan-blue members might not agree with Wang's opinions.

"The DPP should implement a referendum on the unification or independence topic along with the nuclear issue right after the Legislative Yuan finalizes the legal formulation, since the independence of Taiwan and abandoning nuclear energy have been the DPP's ultimate goals for years," KMT legislative whip Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) said when he commented on the DPP draft referendum bill on Monday.

The DPP, under the leadership of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), was also denounced by an independent lawmaker for its reluctance to laud Trong Chai (蔡同榮), a lawmaker renowned for his conviction that the country's fate be determined by referendum.

"The late DPP chairman Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介) must be disappointed to see his followers make the DPP's longtime pledge of realizing independence into a slogan," independent Legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜) said.

Sisy Chen, a former member of the DPP who turned around to side with the pan-blue camp, challenged the DPP for breaking down one of its founding objectives of pursuing the country's final independence by holding referendums.

The ruling party's reservations over elaborating on its hope to include the unification or independence issue in the referendum legislation exemplified its abandoning of Huang's convictions, Sisy Chen said.

She referred to a remark by Huang when the late statesman addressed the public in the US in 1988.

The former DPP chairman told the public at that time that certain matters, such as realizing Taiwan's independence, should be tried without public propaganda. Other issues, such as the hope of unification with China, would be a better political slogan than a real action.

The DPP has moved away from what Huang believed in, Sisy Chen said.

"The DPP proposes a defensive referendum scheme in the referendum legislation. A defensive referendum, requested by the president and needing to be approved by the Cabinet, would take place and demonstrate the people's response if Taiwan ever encounters any attack," DPP legislative leader Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said, refering to a final draft bill to be presented by the ruling party this week.

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