Sat, May 14, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Referendums will stop independence, Taipei mayor says

USING DEMOCRACY Ma told an anxious pan-blue group that constitutional reform via referendums make independence more difficult to achieve

CNA , Taipei

Allowing for popular referendums on future constitutional amendments is a way to block moves toward Taiwan's independence, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.

Ma made the remarks in response to claims by Democratic Action Alliance (DAA) activists that inclusion of the right to referendums into the Constitution would promote independence.

Inclusion of the right to referendums in the Constitution is one of the items in the reform package passed by the legislature last August that the 300 delegates of the National Assembly will be charged with approving or rejecting. The National Assembly election will be held today, with 12 political parties and civic groups running in the elections.

Dismissing the activists' claims, Ma said that allowing for referendums on constitutional amendments would make proposals aimed at promoting Taiwan independence or changing the Republic of China's status quo harder to pass.

When the National Assembly is formally disbanded -- another one of the items in the constitutional reform package -- any proposed constitutional amendments redefining the nation's territory or the ROC's formal designation to contain the word "Taiwan" will first have to be passed by the Legislative Yuan and then approved by the Taiwanese people through a referendum, Ma said, adding that this will make changing the status quo more difficult.

Meanwhile, Ma continued to urge the public to come out to vote for today's National Assembly election.

Other items in the constitutional reform package that the National Assembly delegates will deal with include reducing the number of legislative seats from the present 225 to 113, and adopting a "single seat, two votes" legislative electoral system starting with the legislature to be elected in 2007.

The 300 delegate seats for the National Assembly will be allotted to the 12 parties and groups based on the proportion of votes they garner in the election.

DAA convenor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), a political science professor at National Taiwan University, said that there was no "rational debates or discussions" before the constitutional and electoral reform package was passed by the legislature last year.

If the package is passed by the National Assembly, it will be disastrous for the nation and the people, Chang claimed, adding that inclusion of the right to referendums in the Constitution would lead to de facto independence.

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