Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lien forges ahead with administrative merger plan

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following his launch of a petition Tuesday night for a referendum on the administrative merging of Taipei City and Taipei County, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) last night initiated a signature drive in Kaohsiung City for a referendum on its administrative integration with surrounding Kaohsiung County.

The presidential hopeful of the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance said that he aimed to have these regional referendums held simultaneously alongside the legislative elections at the end of the year.

"Let's run the petition drive from now until the year-end legislative election to enable us to hold a referendum on the merger of Kaohsiung City and county," Lien called out to a rally of supporters last night in Kaohsiung County.

"The referendum would then be the first meaningful referendum ever held in Taiwan's history, because it will be initiated by the people," he said, dismissing the referendum proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as being "not of democratic means, but dictatorial."

To follow up on his campaign pledge to restructure the country's administrative districts, it is likely that Lien will also launch a signature drive for the merging of Taichung City and Taichung County in central Taiwan when his campaign takes him to the region.

Lien said restructuring the local administrative governments is one way for them to stay competitive.

According to provisions of the Referendum Law (公民投票法), a successful referendum petition needs the signatures of 0.5 percent of the electorate before it could be screened by the Referendum Review Committee (公投審議委員會), which will be formed to examine proposed topics for referendum and to make rules for implementing referendums after their approval.

The referendums proposed by Lien are considered regional affairs, and thus would be managed by local governments if the referendum petitions are successful.

Administrative government agencies are required to draft substantial measures to implement the decision of the referendum should the electorates in the relevant cities and counties vote in favor of merging in the regional referendums.

Lien yesterday said that, if he wins the presidential election, he would donate his entire income and election subsidy to philanthropic work. The election subsidy refers to the NT$30 per vote received each candidate taking part in an election can get from the Central Election Commission (CEC).

"If I win 10 million votes, the CEC will grant a NT$300 million subsidy, which I will donate to charity," Lien said.

"Vote for me! The more votes for me, the more charity you are involved in," Lien said in his address to crowd at the rally last night.

Commenting on Lien's campaign pledge that he would donate his income to charity if elected, Democratic Progressive Party spokesman Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) said that Lien should fist take care of issues concerning the KMT's party assets.

"Lien Chan represents the KMT, the party which had in the past taken illicit possessions from the people," Wu said. "Lien should first take care of this matter and relinquish [the KMT's illegal assets] before talking [about donating his income.]"

Saying that Chen had in the past always allocated his election subsidy to DPP party branches in various cities and counties and donated the remainder to charitable foundations, Wu said Chen would do the same this time.

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