Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Wang sees referendum hold-up

VOICING CONCERNS The parties are so far apart on the issue of a referendum law that the legislative speaker expects little progress to be made until November


Disagreements between the main parties will likely hold up approval of a referendum law until at least the end of November, legislative speaker Wang Jin-Pyng (王金平) said yesterday.

Wang made the comments to reporters when asked about the possible impact of holding referendums on cross-strait relations.

Wang said there are two ways a referendum bill could be passed.

The speaker could initiate multiparty negotiations at the Legislative Yuan to reach a consensus on the details of the bill.

Otherwise, a draft bill could submitted to the legislative floor and proceed in the same way as any other bill.

Wang expressed reservations that cross-party negotiations could overcome the differences between the parties on certain clauses in the referendum bill.

"Extreme disagreements among lawmakers regarding the draft referendum bill and an underlying difference among parties on whether the legislation should be the referendum law or the initiative and referendum law remain great challenges for multiparty negotiations," Wang said.

"Review of the referendum bill is unlikely to be completed before the end of November in the next legislative session since lawmakers will not convene their first legislative assembly until then," Wang said.

Lawmakers will engage in weeks of interpellation before convening the legislative assembly and begin to review bills.

Wang yesterday declined to comment on the Cabinet's plan to conduct referendums according to rules drafted by an ad hoc referendum committee rather than legislation.

"I should not comment on such an issue today. But I concur with the view presented by an editorial of a local daily," Wang said at the gathering.

The editorial he was referring to argued that the Executive Yuan would be bypassing the law if it decides to hold a referendum according to rules mapped out by the committee.

Wang said the Cabinet's conduct should be reviewed by the public.

Wang said the referendum should only be held once three conditions have been met: national security is assured; the public concur with the way it will be held and it will benefit cross-strait relations.

Wang said it was impossible to know exactly how China would respond to a referendum in Taiwan.

The government must thoroughly evaluate referendums and their effect on cross-strait developments, he said.

Wang also told reporters yesterday that he was still interested in visiting China on behalf of the government.

In 2000, the speaker expressed his willingness to visit China if his trip would help improve cross-strait relations.

"I would be delighted to travel to China in the capacity of the top legislative official of Taiwan under four premises and with the president's authorization," Wang told reporters.

The four premises are that the trip must: meet the needs of the country; be approved by the public; be approved by a legislative resolution and be conducted in a reciprocal way.

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