Thu, Feb 19, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Despite referendum debates, PFP sticks to its guns

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The People First Party (PFP) legislative caucus yesterday urged people not to pick up their referendum ballots, saying that doing so "is also a means of voting."

The PFP legislative caucus' call was a rehashing of party Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) assertion on Tuesday that he would not pick up his referendum ballots on March 20.

"All law-abiding citizens have the right to not pick up their referendum ballots, since the proposed referendum is illegal and there is already a national consensus about the two referendum questions," said PFP Legislator Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷).

"Refusing to vote in the referendum and not picking up a ballot reflects the universal values and consensus among the citizens. We want to tell the public that law-abiding citizens should refuse to vote in the referendum and only pick up ballots for the presidential election," Hsieh said.

PFP legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said the PFP will not mobilize voters to boycott the referendum in order to show respect to voters' judgement.

"We will only try to make clear the illegality of the issue and leave the decision [of whether to pick up the ballots] to the voters. As for the Chinese Nationalist Party's [KMT's] decision regarding the referendum, we will respect whatever they decide for themselves," Liu said.

Commenting on the group of talk show hosts who expressed interest in participating in a debate regarding the proposed referendum a day earlier, PFP legislator Chen Chin-hsin (陳進興) said the pan-blue alliance was not aware that the group had been intending to volunteer to be the representatives of the "opposition" side of the debate.

The group forming the opposition team included independent Legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜), writer Li Ao (李敖) and TV news program host Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康).

The Central Election Commission (CEC) is planning a series of 10 debates, five for each of the two questions on the referendum proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Jan. 16.

In view of the failure of the opposition KMT-PFP alliance legislative caucuses to present their lists of potential candidates for the debate to the CEC on Monday, a coalition of talk show hosts famous for their anti-Chen stance launched a signature drive on Tuesday, petitioning for the chance to play the voice of the opposition in the debates.

Chen Chin-hsin, who had been insisting that the alliance should take part in the debate as the opposition, acknowledged that the group's willingness to participate in the debate was a bonus for the pan-blue camp.

"The debate with Sisy Chen and the others arguing in opposition to the referendum questions will provide an opportunity for the general public to see how absurd Chen Shui-bian's proposed referendum is," Chen Chin-hsin said.

KMT Legislator Yu Tzu-shiang (游梓翔), who also serves as the alliance's campaign spokesman, yesterday stressed that the alliance had nothing to do with the group.

Stating that the debates are being held to argue over the substance of the two referendum questions, Yu said the alliance would not take part in the debates because "it has no different opinions with regard to the [two] questions."

According to Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), a political commentator and editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, the individuals are known for their pro-unification stance and have been long-term advisors to the pan-blue camp.

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