Sun, Jul 27, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lu lends support to referendum plan

CALL The vice president said there was no need for a referendum law because the spirit of the Constitution and international law serve as a legal basis for plebiscites

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday defended the legitimacy of the government's holding of an advisory referendum before the next presidential election, saying that international public law and the spirit of Constitution serve as a legal basis for referendums in Taiwan.

Citing a passage from the UN Charter which said "All people have the right to self-determination" and the ROC Constitution which stipulates that the power of the nation resides in its people, Lu said, "No one should ever need to doubt the legitimacy of the government's ability to hold a referendum" as opposed to the legislature's recent failure to pass a referendum bill in the last legislative session.

Despite the setback of the referendum-bill failure in the legislature, the Cabinet still insists on holding an advisory referendum, which could go ahead even without the passing of the referendum bill.

However, the opposition camps, which withdrew their support from the referendum legislation in the legislature's special session in early July, opposed the idea of an advisory referendum, saying it is illegal.

Lu made the comments yesterday at the second anniversary party of the Northern Taiwan Society, a group advocating Taiwan's independence.

Yesterday's celebration also saw Latvian critic Valdis Berzins, a foreign news editor from Latvia's Lauku Avize Weekly, invited to deliver a speech on the Baltic nation's journey to independence.

"Latvia had a lot of similar experiences to Taiwan in its fight for independence. We held a referendum in 1991 to strongly express the Latvian people's will for independence," Berzin said.

Citing Latvia's success in gaining independence through a strong consolidation of the people's will, Lu said, "That's solid proof that as long as our people are determined, we can make it happen in Taiwan."

"Latvia's referendum showed that 91 percent of its public supported independence -- solid proof of the Latvian people's self-determination which prompted the UN to invite Latvia to join the international organization at a time when very few countries in the world supported Latvia's independence," Lu said.

"That's the charisma of a referendum," the vice president said.

In yesterday's event ,the Northern Taiwan Society, along with 140 other private groups, pledged to demand the government push for a referendum.

Amid the controversial referendum bill which was killed in the last legislative session due to opposition from the pan-blue camp, the groups yesterday urged the legislature to prioritize the bill in the next legislative session.

Northern Taiwan Society, which initiated the campaign, said "The power of the powerless [the people] is the right to vote in common elections and referendums. We demand the government give Taiwanese people this direct power -- the referendum power guaranteed by the Constitution -- so that the people can express their opinions about the public policing directly through referendums."

The Northern Taiwan Society was founded in 2001 as a member of the four Taiwan Societies: Southern, based in Kaohsiung, Central in Taichung, Northern in Taipei and Eastern in Hualien.

The common ideal of the four groups is working toward an independent, just and progressive Taiwan.

Members of the four groups are mostly doctors, academics, lawyers and professionals from cultural and business sectors. Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) also helped the founding of the organization.

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