Thu, Nov 13, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Deal on referendum talks

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Under fire for delaying a review of competing referendum laws, legislative leaders of Chinese Nation-alist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) yesterday promised to take the initiative in finalizing the legislation.

"The KMT and PFP caucuses reached a consensus with both party headquarters on referendum legislation," KMT whip Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said. "Lawmakers of the two parties are fully authorized to handle multiparty negotiations and we will work to complete the law without prejudice and taking into account the opinions of other parties."

Lee made the remark a day after the pan-green camp criticized the pan-blue parties for delaying the referendum legislation.

The KMT-PFP majority in the Procedure Committee of Legislative Yuan on Tuesday denied a proposal from the Democratic Progressive Party (PFP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union to prioritize review of several draft referendum bills at tomor-row's legislative sitting.

The pan-green parties hinted that they were considering organizing a protest by referendum advocates outside the Legislative Yuan next Friday if the KMT and PFP broke their promise to advance the referendum law next week.

Lee said yesterday that the KMT had asked DPP legislative leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) to convene cross-party negotiations. He encouraged the pan-green camp to be open to different opinions at the negotiations.

"Completing the proposed law is not a privilege of the ruling party. The DPP should stop making use of the referendum to fool people," Lee said.

But DPP whip Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) denied Lee's claim, saying, "The KMT never contacted Ker about multiparty negotiations. Lee confused the fact that it was the DPP that initiated the request for negotiations five times and the KMT treated it with indifference."

The DPP sent another request to begin negotiations to the KMT yesterday.

"The DPP also sought Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) mediation by hosting the multiparty negotiations," Chen said. "The DPP welcomes the KMT and the PFP's goodwill about the lawmaking as long as they are not promoting a referendum law that will straitjacket citizens' right to hold referendums."

Ker said that multiparty negotiations were likely to take place at midday today.

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