A Cabinet committee yesterday approved a proposal initiated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) calling for a referendum on forcing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to return its stolen assets to the nation's coffers.
"The referendum will be held should the signatures of 5 percent of registered voters at the last presidential election, or 825,359 people, be collected within six months," said Shih Hui-fen (施惠芬), the commissioner of the Cabinet's Appeals Review Committee.
After collecting 108,000 signatures on a petition backing the idea of a referendum, an alliance led by the DPP submitted the petition to the "Referendum Review Commission" for screening on Sept. 4.
As the commission failed to decide whether it would accept the petition by Nov. 4, one month after the petition was handed over, DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun filed a complaint with the Cabinet's Appeals Review Committee on Nov. 6 and it was approved yesterday.
The "Referendum Review Commission," set up under the Cabinet, is composed of 21 members recommended by Taiwan's political parties based on their share of legislative seats, as a result of which the commission is dominated by the pan-blue camp.
Commission Chairman Kao Yung-kuang (葛永光) had said on Nov. 3 that the commission would vote on Nov. 24 on whether to screen the petition, but that might preclude the DPP's plan to collect the signatures by taking advantage of next month's mayoral elections.
However, the approval yesterday by the Appeals Review Committee would make the possibility of passing the threshold of 825,359 signatures within one month possible.
In related developments, two statutes, sponsored by the government and the DPP, aimed at divesting the KMT of its stolen assets had their preliminarily review by the legislature's joint committee.
While the People First Party lawmakers helped the DPP in putting the long-stalled statutes onto the legislative agenda last month, they sided with the KMT against reviewing the statutes yesterday.
The joint committee was composed of the Home and Nations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
As the pan-blue alliance holds a majority in the joint committees, KMT Legislators Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) motioned a proposal to dismiss the committee at the beginning of yesterday's meeting, but DPP Legislator Kao Chien-chih (高建智) adopted a delaying tactic by adjourning the decision.
KMT lawmakers chanted that the government intended to enact the statutes to eradicate the KMT using the pretext of establishing a level playing field for political parties, while DPP lawmakers shouted back that "protecting stolen assets is tantamount to corruption."
Lawmakers from the two opposing camps engaged in a heated exchange of words and verbal abuse on and off throughout the duration of the committee, which was rendered idle from 9am to 5:30pm.
After the meeting was over, Ko said that the KMT didn't dare to review the statutes as its party assets were stolen, but KMT Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said that the party preferred to amend the Political Party Law rather than using statutes.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party's Chairman Yu Shyi-kun yesterday again urged the pan-blue camp to bring an end to the "political farce," referring to the pan-blue camp's boycott of the arms procurement bills and party assets bill in the Legislature.