Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 3 News List

High-ranking DPP official stands up for referendum

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A senior official of the DPP party yesterday said the Constitution had empowered citizens long ago with the right to carry out referendums.

"The very legal basis for conducting a referendum by people was stated in the ROC Constitution which guarantees that referendums are the right of every citizen as stated in Articles 2 and 17," DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said.

Lee made his remarks after the ruling party's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting. The remarks were made in response to the pan-blue forces' challenge to the legitimacy of conducting referendums.

One day after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) pledged his party lawmakers that the government will advance a referendum before March 20 next year, pan-blue officials, including KMT legislative leaders and officials in the Taipei City Government, said that the pledged referendum would encounter problems with legitimacy.

Lawrence Gao (高志鵬), also a DPP Central Standing Committee member, concurred with Lee's interpretation of the disagreement.

Gao, a DPP legislator, urged his opposition counterparts to stop boycotting the legal formulation of the referendum law, saying that "67 percent of respondents in a poll thought that the Legislative Yuan should bear most of the responsibility for the disorderliness of Taiwanese politics."

"The legislation for a referendum needs to be passed as soon as possible to honor our goal of advancing a second wave of democratic reform," Gao added.

Following up on Gao's statements, Lee said: "An obligatory legislative confirmation for all referendum topics, once approved by lawmakers in the referendum legislation, would be the most incredible insult to a basic right granted to every citizen by the Constitution.

DPP legislative whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), who attended yesterday's meeting to give a briefing on the just-concluded extra legislative session, spoke of his hope that party caucuses in the legislature in the next session will wind up the referendum legislation after a period of rational negotiation.

"We hope that the referendum legislation will not end with a legislative showdown since it is only a procedural enactment about how a referendum could be carried out," Ker told reporters in yesterday's news conference.

Another highlight of yesterday's weekly meeting was a speech given by Wang Dan (王丹), a Chinese intellectual in exile, on the long-term view for the development of democracy in China.

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