Wed, Jul 09, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Colorful protesters march demanding referendum

AP , TAIPEI

Dressed in pink vests and carrying signs, supporters of legalized prostitution rallied outside the legislature yesterday, supporting a proposal to expand the nation's democracy by allowing referendums.

The demonstrators were among several activist groups that hope legislators will pass the bill that could allow them to put their special issues on nationwide ballots.

At the start of a three-day special session yesterday, lawmakers had yet to agree on the referendum bill's language, and it was uncertain whether the proposal would be passed.

Outside the legislature, a small group of women chanted, pumped their fists in the air and held signs saying "Sex industry wants a referendum."

Some wore pink vests, while others disguised their identities with dark sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.

"We the people believe that we need a referendum to settle important policy issues," said Wang Fang-ping (王芳萍), a sex industry activist. "The people need to directly express their opinions."

Anti-nuclear activists also planned to stage a sit-in outside the legislature yesterday.

The DPP has long supported a referendum law. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has said that he has no plans to hold an independence vote.

Chen has said he would support such a vote if China tries to attack or if opposition parties demand that Taiwan unify with China, saying it would be "defensive in nature."

In recent weeks, the KMT and the PFP changed their positions on referendums and now support them. The parties didn't want to appear anti-democratic in the run-up to next year's presidential election.

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