Sat, Nov 29, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Referendum Law not a triumph for pan-blues: Ma

LEGISLATIVE POLITICS The mayor said neither side can really claim victory since the DPP did get some of its proposals into the final version

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPROTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that because the Referendum Law (公民投票法) contained some of the ideas that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had proposed it did not represent a landslide for the pan-blue alliance.

"The passage of the Referendum Law shows a belief in the people's will, which is a great event, worthy of celebration," Ma said when asked his opinion of the new law.

"I appreciate the legislature's efforts to pass the law in such short time. I believe it is a milestone in the history of the Constitution of the Republic of China," he said.

Ma said that he was glad that most of what he had insisted on had been adopted into the law.

He said, however, that the clause that allows holding referendums on the same date as national elections was a "waste of resources."

Ma indicated that it was satisfying that the law enabled people to exercise their civil rights directly and legitimately, and that the law excluded the Executive Yuan's interference and left decisions to the legislature.

Ma also said the fact that the law denied the Cabinet the right to hold advisory referendums is "respectful of people's decisions."

"Advisory referendums are not legally binding. If people were told that the outcome of a referendum was not recognized, it would not be respectful to people," Ma said.

The only clause proposed by the Cabinet that was adopted by the legislature was the defensive referendum, which offers the president the power to initiate a special referendum on changing the country's sovereignty when it faces external threats to its

security.

"I think this clause is like a manifesto," Ma said, indicating that a national referendum will cost NT$1.2 billion, according to the Central Election Committee's estimates.

"If China uses force against Taiwan, holding a referendum would be a slow reaction that could not help us in such a critical situation. I think the money would be better spent buying weapons at that moment," he said.

"My take would be that the chance to use the defensive referendum provision would be rare," he said.

"As a whole, I don't think it was a fiasco for the DPP. Nor do I agree with the opinion that the pan-blue camp won a triumph by passing the law," Ma said.

Ma said that although the legislature was denied the power to propose referendum topics, at least the DPP caucus in the legislature can do so.

"In fact, the pan-greens did not lose the game," he added.

Ma advised the legislature not to overturn the new law because he thought it would cause a repeat of Wednesday's showdown, which would "weaken the pan-green camp's morale and the government's authority."

As for the city's referendum law, Ma said he will instruct the Law and Regulation Commission to revise the clauses that conflict with the legislature's version.

"We hope to implement direct democracy as soon as possible," Ma said.

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