Tue, Mar 02, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Lin starts hunger strike over legislative reform

NO REFORM, NO FOOD Former DPP leader and anti-nuclear activist Lin I-hsiung is challenging the legislature to stick to its promise to reduce the number of seats by half

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former DPP chairman Lin Yi-hsiung takes his seat in front of the Legislative Yuan yesterday as he and other activists began a hunger strike to protest the alleged failure of legislators to make good on a promise to halve the size of the legislature. PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) yesterday launched a 240-hour relay hunger strike in front of the Legislative Yuan to urge lawmakers to halve the number of legislative seats.

The peaceful sit-down protest mainly included opponents of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant under construction in Taipei County.

Lin, who founded the Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative Association, declined to speak to reporters yesterday.

However, a member of the association read out a statement drafted by Lin, in which he said that all parties promised three years ago to halve the number of legislative seats and that a constitutional amendment had been held up in the Legislative Yuan.

"Getting this resolution passed should be as easy as lifting a finger," the statement said.

The demonstrators urged legislators to pass the proposal before the presidential election on March 20 because there was no reason to delay it. They said legislators made and broke promises too easily.

The 10-day demonstration began on a chilly note, with temperatures falling sharply from the 29?C recorded on Sunday.

Demonstrators sat on cushions and had only a blanket to keep them warm.

A cold front will bring temperatures down to 11?C tomorrow, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

The hunger strike is being conducted in 24-hour sessions.

Association executive general Iap Phok-bun (葉博文) said the first 24-hour sit-in would end at 10am today.

Iap said that Lin and Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) would hold a joint press conference on Saturday to press the legislature to act.

DPP caucus secretary-general Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said his party was sympathetic to Lin and Lee's position.

"We signed the petition letter to show our resolve. But our colleagues from the People First Party (PFP) were reluctant to cooperate," Tsai said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus leader Liao Feng-te (廖風德) questioned the timing of the demonstration, coming less than three weeks before the presidential election.

"We all respect his [Lin's] prestige. But at this critical moment, it's unnecessary to waste his energy," Liao said.

No KMT or PFP legislators have responded so far to a petition endorsed by both Lin and Lee on Feb. 20, activists said.

The petition demands that the ruling and opposition parties act to halve the number of legislative seats from 225.

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