Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Ministries move to hold proposed referendums

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Moves are underway to hold referendums on the partially constructed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, entry into the World Health Organization (WHO) and legislative reform, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

"Government agencies, including the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Department of Health and Ministry of the Interior, presented their proposals to Minister without Portfolio Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄) today. He'll then call a meeting to review the proposals," Lin said.

Hsu was assigned by Premier Yu Shyi-kun to head the Cabinet's referendum review committee.

The 14-person committee was created to scrutinize the issues that could be decided by referendums and how the referendums could be held. The committee is expected to last two years.

Regarding creating direct transportation links with China, as recently proposed by a think tank of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Lin said that it is too early to comment on the proposal since it is still a premature idea.

"Theoretically we don't rule out the possibility. However, the problem doesn't lie in whether the proposal is feasible but whether it's appropriate," Lin said. "Direct cross-strait transportation is a government policy which creates tremendous effects on various industrial sectors and therefore extra care is required."

The Cabinet's stance on the matter is clear, Lin said, that is cross-strait direct links can be opened if both sides are willing to sit down and talk.

"It's totally unacceptable if there's any threat or precondition set before the both sides sit down at the negotiating table," Lin said.

Lin criticized the referendum draft proposed by the opposition bloc that would ban national referendums from being held in conjunction with presidential elections.

"Their proposal doesn't make sense because while it costs between NT$300 million and NT$500 million to hold a referendum in conjunction with next March's presidential poll, it costs much more to do it separately," he said.

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