Tue, Jan 03, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Wang says a referendum is unlikely

COLD WATER The legislative speaker said even if the government realized its goal of a citizen-sponsored constitutional referendum, the pan-blue camp would oppose it

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday was pessimistic about the likelihood of holding a referendum on a new constitution next year, saying the pan-blue camp would not support the idea.

"The legislature is one of the most difficult hurdles that the government has to overcome," Wang said. "It is highly unlikely that the pan-blue camp would let the administration have its wish."

While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration may be able to hold 10,000 forums to discuss constitutional reform as planned, Wang said it does not necessarily guarantee that the plan will be successful.

With its slim legislative majority, the pan-blue camp could block the legislature from initiating a referendum on a new constitution. It could also block any referendum proposed by the president or the public, since a screening committee with membership in proportion to legislative seats must approve such referendum proposals.

Wang made the remarks in response to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) New Year address on Sunday, in which Chen said he hoped to see a draft of a new Taiwanese constitution completed this year. He added that if conditions are ripe, "Who says it is impossible to hold a referendum on a new constitution next year?"

As for the president's new cross-strait economic policy, Wang said the question is not whether policies are tightened or loosened, but how well they are implemented.

"The country will benefit from the policy if it is well executed, and suffer from it if it is merely a slogan," he said.

Wang said the government may want to consider further relaxing restrictions on China-bound investments because that is the hope of most local business and the public.

The DPP's New Tide faction yesterday encouraged the president to further loosen its cross-party economic policies, saying that the president's New Year address "seemed to deviate from the actual conditions recognized by local economic think tanks, academics and businesses."

"Our suggestion for the president is `aggressive positioning, confident opening-up'," said DPP Legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪其昌), the acting faction convenor. "The nation does not need to be afraid of further opening up nor lose confidence in further opening up."

Some faction members, including DPP legislators Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) and Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), have harshly criticized the president's address.

Lee branded the president's speech as nothing but a "showy composition." Lin said it was "inappropriate" for the president to emphasize in the speech that he was not a "lame duck."

Yesterday, Lee refused to elaborate on those comments, but only said that the government should more actively open up its cross-strait economic policies.

Meanwhile, Chinese National Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday continued to attack the president's address, calling its contents "astonishing," and saying that the nation will achieve nothing in the next two years because of Chen's empty promises.

"I'm worried about what is in store for Taiwan in the next two years, since President Chen has chosen to return to his radical pro-Taiwan independence stance," Ma said yesterday when asked again about Chen's speech.

The KMT will do its part in the Legislative Yuan to monitor the government's policies and budgets in a rational manner, Ma said.

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