Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet explores referendums

DUCK AND DODGE The Executive Yuan announced enforcement measures for it to hold referendums, though plebiscite legislation has been shelved until the next session

STAFF WRITER

The Cabinet yesterday made public the enforcement measures for the Executive Yuan to hold referendums, in case that legislation governing referendums cannot be passed by the legislature in time.

But the move drew fire from the KMT and PFP, which criticized the government for using plebiscites to attain its political goals.

The enforcement measures, drafted by Minister without Portfolio Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄), stipulate that the Cabinet shall set up a referendum review committee to scrutinize the issues for referendums and implementation plans put forth by the authorities concerned.

The Cabinet would then have to promulgate the referendum issues within 10 days of their passage in a Cabinet meeting. The voting date must be arranged within two months from the day the issues are made public. Debates and seminars must be held during that two-month period.

Hsu's draft also stipulates that referendums can be held together with elections for public offices or presidential elections.

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the Cabinet hopes that the legislature can pass the referendum bill as soon as possible in the next legislative session, so that the Cabinet will have sufficient time for preparation.

He also stressed that the Cabinet's promulgating the enforcement measures guarantees the people's right to initiative and referendum, which are enshrined in the Constitution, and complies with the Administrative Procedure Law (行政程序法).

The pan-blue camp lambasted the draft as the government's move to "rape the Legislative Yuan."

KMT legislative whip Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) and PFP legislative whip Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) said the government's forceful method will cause political and social instability and influence economic development.

Liu criticized the Cabinet for attempting to use administrative orders to enable consultative referendums to be held. Chung said the Cabinet move is in defiance of the legislature.

Both men stressed that referendum legislation will be the priority for their parties in the next legislative session.

They said their parties will not allow the Cabinet to hold any consultative referendums with the presidential election in March when no legal basis is available.

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