Tue, Nov 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet official blasts Lien Chan

CNA , TAIPEI

Taiwan is already a sovereign, independent country so there is no need to hold a referendum on independence, only on the question of unification with China, an official said yesterday.

Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) was responding to a call by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) in a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting on Saturday.

Lien said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has repeatedly advocated "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait, an independent Taiwan and the establishment of a nation" to try to fool the people of Taiwan, and said he tried to call the DPP's bluff by daring President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to propose a referendum on independence, which could be held alongside the Dec. 11 legislative elections.

The president responded during a stumping trip for DPP legislative candidates that night by saying that he would not fall for Lien's ploy, adding that everyone knows that he sticks to his "Five Noes" pledge -- which includes no referendum on independence or unification.

Chen Chi-mai noted that the president has stressed on several occasions that Taiwan is already a sovereign, independent country and its name is the Republic of China. Only if the nation or its status quo is threatened by foreign countries or its sovereignty is at risk of being changed, will the president invoke Article 17 of the Referendum Law (公投法) concerning a "defensive referendum."

Chen Chi-mai also reminded Lien that according to the Referendum Law that cleared the legislature last November, there is no possibility of holding a referendum on independence.

He said that Article II of the Referendum Law stipulates that issues concerning changing the name and geographic boundaries of the nation involve constitutional revisions and cannot be included in a referendum.

"Lien doesn't even understand the law he helped clear in the legislature," Chen Chi-mai said, adding that he "felt sorry for him."

Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦), director of the party's Department of Culture and Information, criticized Lien for being too reckless as a party chief.

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