Wed, Nov 12, 2003 - Page 3 News List

No referendum debate this week

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers will not discuss the proposed referendum law until next week after the pan-blue-controlled Procedure Committee yesterday denied a special motion to advance the discussion to Friday.

Cashing in on their numerical advantage in the committee, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers and their People First Party (PFP) colleagues denied a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) motion to change Friday's legislative agenda from interpellation of Cabinet officials to the review of draft referendum bills.

"The DPP sent 10 letters and made another 10 verbal requests to the KMT caucus to convene a multiparty negotiation, but to no avail. So we came up with the motion to change Friday's agenda to include discussion on referendums," said DPP legislative leader Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).

But KMT and PFP lawmakers vetoed the proposal and said the special review of referendum bills should take place next week.

KMT whip Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said it was "impossible to alter Friday's agenda."

It would be improper to hamper lawmakers' rights to question the premier and other officials by changing the agenda, pan-blue legislators said.

They also rejected a pan-green proposal that the legislature push through the referendum law with a special sitting, insisting that only Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) could convene a special meeting and he, therefore, is the only one who could make such a schedule.

The four-month deadline for negotiations on the first draft of a referendum bill ends today. Law-makers could then push for a vote on a referendum law anytime after today.

In addition to a first draft referendum law presented by DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers, legislators must consider draft bills submitted by the DPP, the Executive Yuan and one drafted jointly by the KMT and PFP.

Chen blasted the pan-blue parties' procrastination, saying the KMT and PFP lawmakers lacked the will to finalize referendum lawmaking as they had vowed to the public.

"Formulating a referendum law has turned into a question of political parties' integrity after all the parties pledged to complete the law. The pan-blue parties' tongue-in-cheek manner over the referendum legislation is swindling the electorate," Chen said.

Chai, meanwhile, called on the public to denounce the pan-blue lawmakers.

The KMT and PFP are still fighting mainstream opinion by delaying the referendum legislation, Chai said, even though they witnessed over 100,000 people taking to the streets on Oct. 25 to back the demand for a referendum law.

DPP and TSU lawmakers plan to express their dissatisfaction with their pan-blue colleagues on Friday and to pressure them into moving ahead with the legislative process for a referendum law.

"Referendum advocates from nationwide civil groups are planning to visit the Legislative Yuan next week to protest against the legislative delay if KMT and PFP lawmakers fail to allow for a review of the law by next week," said TSU whip Lo Chih-ming (羅志明).

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