The process of developing a referendum law in Taiwan represents the difficult progress of the country's efforts to decolonize itself and establish an awareness of its sovereignty.
Although there is still a powerful opposition which is trying to ensure the failure of Taiwan's first nationwide referendum, many political analysts believe that the referendum on Saturday will succeed.
These analysts say the coming referendum is an important opportunity for the people of Taiwan to break the mold of partisan conflict, ethnic division, and bickering about independence or reunification.
Further, referendums could become a fundamental tool in the routine operation of Taiwan's democracy, and the major method Taiwanese adopt to handle domestic differences about cross-strait issues.
"President Chen Shui-bian (
"The consensus brought by the referendum is greater than the conflict the elections bring, so no matter who wins the presidential election, referendums will become a common asset shared by all parties, just like the slogan `Love Taiwan [
Hsu pointed out that if Chen won a second term, he would continue to use referendums to smooth out differences about major public policies, such as the destiny of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the formulation of a new constitution and deciding how the Taiwanese government interacts with China or the US.
On the other hand, Hsu said, if Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (
"If Chen loses, the referendum will not be considered to be the cause of Chen's failure, because the referendum enabled Chen to close the gap in his standing in the polls in six months, from trailing by 20 percent to a race too close to call," Hsu said.
"Now the KMT and the People First Party [PFP] dare not oppose the referendum under any circumstance, as the public will keep examining Lien or Chen in the future to see whether they continue to respect the referendum," he said.
The history of the referendum law in Taiwan parallels the experiences of other countries which had been colonized before and during World War II as the former colonials fought, either politically or physically, to achieve their country's independence. Holding a referendum on the topic of independence was even a method promoted by the UN for former colonies to determine their international status.
After Japan lost the war in 1945, Taiwan was taken over by China's KMT regime.
But after the alien regime brutally massacred thousands of Taiwanese in the 228 Incident in 1947, people became disappointed with China and its turmoil as well as the KMT government. These people had new notions about Taiwan's status as a country.