Thu, Jul 08, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Association begins lobbying tour at TSU headquarters

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Iap Phok-bun, right, executive general of the Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative Association shakes hands yesterday with Lin Chih-chia, center, chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, in the first of a series of visits to appeal for halving the number of legislative seats, revising the Referendum Law and promoting a nuclear-free homeland.

PHOTO: YEH CHIH-MIN, TAIPEI TIMES

The Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative Association (核四公投促進會) yesterday visited the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), the first of its lobbying efforts with political parties to make an appeal to halve the number of legislative seats, revise the Referendum Law (公投法) and promote a nuclear-free homeland by opposing the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Association executive general Iap Phok-bun (葉博文) yesterday said the visits to each political party are intended to urge lawmakers to fulfill their promises to pass the legislature downsizing bill. The bill was originally expected to be passed before March 19 this year, but failed due to opposition from independent lawmakers who demanded the bill undergo additional cross-party negotiations, which will be finished by July 19.

The legislature has yet to decide whether to open an extra legislative sitting, which if convened, is likely to be held later this month or early next month.

During the first of the association's visits to each political party, Iap yesterday said the association wishes that lawmakers from across party lines will work together to pass the legislature downsizing bill during the extra session. Otherwise, Iap said, the association will stage demonstrations at the Legislative Yuan after the July 19 deadline.

The association, led by former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), conducted a hunger strike in March in an effort to help push the bill through. During the presidential campaign, Lin also visited political leaders from all parties to secure their support for the bill.

"We simply want the lawmakers to keep their promises. After all, this bill was jointly supported by all the parties of the pan-green and pan-blue camps two years ago. They just have to keep their word on this matter," Iap said yesterday.

TSU Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉), who received the association's appeal during an open-door discussion, said the TSU stood fully behind the association's appeals, but pointed out the clincher of the bill's fate is whether the pan-greens can become the majority in the legislature after the December legislative elections.

Lin said the legislature downsizing plan involves amending the Constitution, which is an extremely difficult task with a pan-blue dominated legislature.

The association yesterday also urged political parties to revise the Referendum Law, which has "gross flaws" that infringe on citizens' rights to initiatives and referendums.

Iap said the Referendum Law has five major flaws, including setting up a Referendum Review Committee comprised proportionally of members of political parties according to their party's representation in the Legislative Yuan, in order to screen proposed referendum topics and to make rules for implementing referendums after their approval.

The design of such a committee overrides the people's right to referendum, as there should be no limitations posed on the topics allowed for a referendum, he said.

Therefore, the committee should be abolished, Iap said.

In addition, Iap criticized the threshold for holding a referendum, saying that the 0.5 percent of registered electorate's signatures that is required before a successful referendum petition can be made is too high. He said the signatures of only 1.5 percent of the number of registered voters who take part in the legislative election held prior to a presidential election are required to register a presidential candidate. The requirement for a referendum shouldn't be any more strict than a presidential election, which is supposed to be the country's most important election, Iap said.

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