Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Referendums held on March 22 will reduce costs: Yeh

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus whip Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said yesterday that the decision to hold the UN bid referendum in tandem with the March 22 presidential election was meant to reduce administrative costs and did not represent an attempt to "swindle votes."

Yeh made the comments in response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus whip Kuo Su-chun's (郭素春) accusation on Friday that the DPP was seeking to garner more votes for DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) by holding the referendum and presidential election simultaneously.

The Central Election Commission said on Friday that two referendums -- one initiated by the DPP on applying to join the UN using the name "Taiwan" and one by the KMT on rejoining the international body using the name "Taiwan," "Republic of China," or "any other practical and flexible" title -- would be held alongside the presidential poll.

In response, Kuo said the KMT was preparing countermeasures and that the party would make a final decision on the matter before the first session of the new legislature opens on Feb. 22.

Speaking to the media yesterday, Yeh said that although the KMT has an overwhelming majority in the new legislature, which gives it the power "to do whatever it wants," she hoped the party would remember that UN membership was the desire of Taiwanese.

The KMT should "respect the will of the people" and not oppose the referendums, she said.

Last month, the KMT boycotted two referendums -- one self-initiated vote on providing the legislature with the power to investigate government corruption and the other initiated by the DPP on recovering KMT stolen assets -- that were held in tandem with the legislative elections.

Both referendums were invalidated, with only a quarter of voters participating.

Yeh said that holding the UN referendum alongside the presidential election was not the key issue.

"The issue that is of the greatest importance is that entering the UN is the will of the majority of Taiwanese," she said, adding that the KMT should tread with caution before deciding to oppose -- or once again call for a boycott of -- the UN referendums.

At a separate setting yesterday, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expressed regret over the CEC's decision to hold the two referendums on the same day as the presidential election.

Ma criticized the CEC, accusing it of serving as an electoral tool of the DPP government.

He said that he would respect the KMT's decision on whether or not to boycott the referendums.

KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday that the party was against holding the plebiscites simultaneously with the presidential poll, but had yet to decide on whether to boycott the bids.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH

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