Sun, Dec 28, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Penghu referendum has no legal basis, Cabinet claims

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Yesterday's referendum on casino legalization in Penghu would not have any legal basis despite the new Referendum Law (公投法) that is expected to come into force next week, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.

"Before the president promulgates the Referendum Law, neither the central government nor local government administration has the right to hold a referendum. Therefore, this referendum in Penghu is non-binding," said Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shi-fang (劉世芳) said.

Liu also said that because of Penghu's small population, a referendum is not feasible.

"If the people want to propose a referendum on their own, the size of Penghu's population cannot meet the minimum number required to file such a petition. It also highlights the absurdity of the pan-blues' proposed referendum law," Liu said.

According to the Referendum Law passed by the Legislative Yuan, which is controlled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP), the minimum number of signature required to propose a referendum is 0.5 percent of the electorate -- approximately 63,000 signatures.

The Referendum Law cleared the legislature on Nov. 27, but was rejected by the Executive Yuan as it requested the legislature to reconsider 12 out of the 52 articles of the law.

Liu also questioned the true motive behind the Penghu referendum.

According to Liu, Penghu County's holding of the referendum before the Referendum Law took effect might be an election gimmick rather than for the benefit of Penghu.

The Ministry of the Interior also echoed Liu's view on the legal basis of the referendum.

"Since the president has not publicly announced a referendum law, this referendum does not have any legal effect. The outcome of the referendum can only be used as an administrative reference for the central government, which can decide what to do with the issue of casino legalization" said Lin Mei-chu (林美珠), director of Civil Affairs Department at the interior ministry.

According to Lin, whatever the referendum result might be, his ministry is not responsible for making a decision based on the result.

"It is the central government that has the right to take any action upon the referendum result," Lin said.

Meanwhile, the legislative caucus would next week take a three-pronged approach to redress what the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called a flawed bill, a DPP legislator said yesterday.

Chen Chi-mei (陳其邁), a DPP whip in the Legislative Yuan, made the remarks after the opposition-controlled legislature rejected the Executive Yuan's request to reconsider 12 of the 54 articles of the newly passed referendum law.

Chen said that the DPP would continue to pursue the path of reform.

The DPP would also submit a draft amendment to the referendum bill next week, Chen said, during which the Legislative Yuan's right to initiate a referendum as well as the referendum bill review committee would be scrapped.

The DPP will also ask Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to convene a Constitution revision committee to include the people's rights to solicit signatures to amend the Constitution into the Constitution and pass it in this legislative session.

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