Fri, Nov 28, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Victory goes to blue camp in referendum showdown

FEELING BLUE While stating that the just-passed Referendum Law is a step forward, the DPP says the legislation robs people of their right to determine their own future

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union raise a banner on the legislative floor to show their opposition to the proposals for the Referendum Law put forward by the alliance of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP). The banner reads, ``Opposing KMT-PFP birdcage referendum law.''

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday lambasted the new Referendum Law (公投法), saying it prevents the people's and the government's participation in the referendum process, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) urged the Cabinet not to reopen debate on the law.

The legislature yesterday killed all the controversial clauses in the Referendum Law, such as those allowing a change in the country's sovereignty status, and denied the Cabinet the right to propose a referendum.

Amid the pan-blue victory, DPP legislative caucus leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said yesterday, "We were very disappointed with this Referendum Law, which is basically a law restricting the practice of a referendum."

Ker said the pan-blue alliance put numerous limitations into the law, including the establishment of a referendum supervisory committee to screen topics allowed for referendums, and the requirement that the committee members be chosen according to the number of legislative seats held by each party.

"Given that pan-blue legislators dominate the legislature, we don't see any possibility that a referendum can be held together with the presidential election next year," Ker said. "The minimum requirement to hold a referendum is too high."

DPP Legislator Lin Chuo-shui (林濁水) said yesterday that, given the dominance of the KMT-PFP alliance, the Referendum Law passed last night sabotaged people's right to determine their own future and inflated the rights of the legislature.

"The KMT-PFP alliance infringed on people's rights and dwarfed administrative agencies' participation in the referendum," Lin said.

Failed clauses in the bill included DPP Legislator Trong Chai's (蔡同榮) proposal that the people be allowed to vote on changing the country's name, flag, anthem and territory -- the so-called referendums leading to Taiwan's independence.

The pan-green camp secured only the passage a "defensive referendum," which allows the president to initiate a referendum on national security issues when the country is under foreign threat.

KMT caucus whip Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) urged the Cabinet not to propose renewed discussion of the Referendum Law to undermine the new law which the country has been expecting for so long.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said yesterday that although the party was not satisfied with the results, it was still a historic moment in that the Referendum Law, which has long been advocated by the DPP, was passed.

"Although the Referendum Law was mostly based on the pan-blue camp's version, we think it is a significant, historic moment because the law gives people the right of initiative and referendum guaranteed by the Constitution. It is a great stride forward in the furthering of democratization in Taiwan," Lee said.

Lee also said that allowing a defensive referendum, the only clause the pan-green camp secured, would raise public consciousness about the importance of national security.

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