Fri, Feb 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Soong's remarks broke the law: TSU

REFERENDUM The Taiwan Solidarity Union said it would report the PFP chief to the justice ministry for trying to discourage voters from casting their ballots

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has violated the law by making comments intended to discourage people from participating in the March 20 referendum, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislative caucus said yesterday.

"James Soong's recent words and actions have violated the Referendum Law (公民投票法). Article 39 of the law stipulates that during the referendum period, those who attempt to obstruct a referendum can be given a sentence of up to five years," said TSU caucus leader Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘).

Chen said that people who urge the public not to participate in a referendum in order to affect the referendum's outcome are violating Article 142 of the Criminal Code.

He said that the TSU caucus would report the PFP leader to the Ministry of Justice.

Soong has expressed his disapproval of the referendum in the past and he said a few days ago that he would not cast a vote in the referendum.

TSU Legislator Chien Lin Huei-jyun (錢林慧君) said that the pan-blue camp was engaging in a battle against the referendum.

"Someone told me yesterday that he had received a phone call from an anonymous person asking his preference in the presidential election, and he said he was a supporter of the pan-blue ticket. The anonymous caller then asked him not to vote in the referendum and to spread the word," Chien Lin said.

Meanwhile, PFP legislators yesterday attacked the referendum for its "meaninglessness."

"The Ministry of National Defense has shown that its attitude toward the referendum is one of no participation, no endorsement, and no acceptance," PFP Legislator Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠) said.

"Since the ministry won't accept the result, should we continue with this kind of referendum? Is this referendum meaningful?" the lawmaker said.

PFP Legislator Chao Liang-yen (趙良燕) called the referendum "a fake referendum but a real military purchase."

The PFP comments followed statements to the legislature on Wednesday by Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) that the ministry would go ahead with its plan to build up its anti-missile forces no matter what the results of the referendum turn out to be.

In a related story, independent Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) has gathered enough signatures to become an opposition speaker in the referendum debate.

She advocates voting no to the first referendum question -- the one concerning weapons purchases -- because she is anti-war and she would like to see money spent on programs for Aboriginals instead of on weapons.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus, upon seeing that more people are signing up to be opposition speakers, has suggested that the Central Election Commission consider holding more debates on the referendum than the scheduled 10 to accommodate all those who want to speak for the opposition side.

The caucus also offered to send its legislators to speak in support of the referendum if more debates are held.

Also, a group of five people in their 20s and 30s -- including DPP Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), a city councilor from Kaohsiung, another from Hsinchu, a student and a civil servant -- approached the KMT caucus during a KMT press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday to challenge the pan-blue politicians to a debate on the referendum.

A verbal conflict ensued and the five were expelled from the legislature.

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