Mon, Mar 15, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Referendum ballots sacred: Lee

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the presidential election less than a week away, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) made a last-ditch effort yesterday to call on the public to take part in Taiwan's first national referendum, scheduled to be held alongside the presidential vote.

"For the sake of the future of the country and our children, I hereby call on the public to cast your sacred ballots for the first national referendum," Lee said.

"Partaking in the referendum is to let the people be the nation's lord and master. If you relinquish your power, some politicians who don't genuinely pursue democratic values will take advantage of the opportunity and twist your will," he said.

Lee called on the public to cast aside those who attempted to boycott the referendum for partisan reasons or personal gain, saying such behavior puts the national interest at risk and should be universally condemned.

Lee made the remarks last night at a forum entitled "People's referendum, Taiwan's Voice," organized by Taiwan Advocates, of which he is chairman.

While seven academics and political commentators attended the forum to discuss the appropriateness, necessity and urgency of the referendum, 496 members of the social elite were invited to represent the Taiwanese people to say "no" to China, which has deployed 496 ballistic missiles against the nation.

Speakers also conversed with audiences in eight locations in the south of the country via video-conferencing.

Lee said the election-day referendum is an opportunity for people to show their unity and resolve to China and the world that Taiwan wants peace and that Taiwan aspires to negotiate with China on the basis of equality and dignity, not as a subordinate province.

"Therefore, you shall not be absent from this historic event and dodge your civil obligations. You shall not refrain from exercising your right to direct democracy," he said.

Lee took the opportunity to mock the nationwide marches initiated by the pan-blue alliance on Saturday, saying the event was a far cry from the hand-in-hand rally initiated by the pan-green camp on Feb. 28.

"While the Feb. 28 event advocated love and joy, the March 13 event trumpeted hatred and conflict," Lee said. "While the hand-in-hand rally was held for the entire nation, the nationwide marches were for particular politicians," he said.

The human-chain campaign appealed not only to the people but also to the international community, while the March 13 event targeted only the upcoming presidential election, he said.

The theme of the Feb. 28 event was "yes to peace, no to missiles" and that of the March 13 was "oppose President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), salvage Taiwan."

Lee said that only those fantasizing about controlling or twisting the wishes of the people or those going against the will of the people feared referendums.

"Some of those who dictated the legislation process of the Referendum Law (公民投票法) and now oppose the election-day referendum are actually on the side of China," Lee said.

"We should realize that they're trying to push the nation toward the brink of danger and I'm calling on sensible voters to voice your protest and opposition against those candidates."

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