The Taiwan chapter of the Lions Clubs International (LCI) will today stage a referendum on changing its official Chinese title from "Republic of China (ROC) Lions Club International" to "Taiwan Lions Club International."
The referendum will take place in Taichung County Gym where a provisional national congress meeting has been called to hold the vote with the participation of approximately 3,200 local LCI chapters representatives nationwide.
"Many other NGOs and organizations such as the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) have rectified their official names,'" said council chairman of the Taiwan LCI chapter Tseng Fu (曾富).
"Rectifying organizations' titles to `Taiwan' has become the trend for NGOs. We hope we can also help the chapter assert its place with LCI headquarters," Tseng said.
The Chicago-based LCI headquarters in April 2002 decided to remove the Taiwan flag from the membership flag of the Taiwan chapter and changed its name from "ROC Lions Club" to "China Taiwan Lions Club."
The decision was made under pressure from Beijing. In May 2002, the first two chapters in China -- in Guangdong and Shenzhen -- were added to LCI's more than 44,600 clubs in 189 countries and were named "China Guangdong" and "China Shenzhen."
After a series of efforts by members of Taiwan's chapters, Taiwan Lions Clubs obtained the title "MD300, Taiwan."
"MD300" is the chapter's district number.
Tseng said that while all the paper work and documents circulating between the chapter and LCI headquarters refers to the chapter as "MD300, Taiwan," the name "China Taiwan" however remains the chapter's official title in the LCI headquarters' membership registration book.
"While we definitely will continue to strive to rectify our chapter's [English] name with LCI headquarters, we think that in the meanwhile we should also work to rectify our chapter's Chinese title," Tseng said.
Noting that the decision to hold the referendum was decided during the chapter's board meeting last month, Tseng added that even if not all of the approximately 3,200 local club representatives attended the meeting today, the chapter could still carry out the referendum if at least half the representatives show up.
The referendum has nothing to do with politics, he added.
Tseng said that the chapter would have its official Chinese title stay the same if the majority of the representatives vote against changing its official title from "ROC" to "Taiwan."
On the other hand, if the majority vote in favor of the name change, Tseng said the chapter will forward the decision to the Ministry of the Interior and the LCI headquarters to have its official name changed.
Tseng said he had no idea of what to expect from the outcome of the referendum.
"I don't know what to expect because the vote is in the hands of representatives," Tseng said.