Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 3 News List

TSU urges DPP and KMT to take referendum action

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday demanded that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lower the threshold for passing referendums via legislation and that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hold the two referendums separately from the March 22 presidential election.

TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said the call aimed to "defuse Taiwan's sovereignty crisis" that would be caused by the possible failure of the DPP-backed referendum on joining the UN using the name "Taiwan" and a KMT-initiated referendum on "rejoining" the UN using the name the Republic of China or any other "practical" title that would uphold the country's dignity.

The Central Election Commission has decided to hold the two referendums in tandem with the election.

"Former President Lee [Teng-hui (李登輝)] is getting more and more worried [about the two referendums] and hasn't slept well because of the impending crisis," Huang said.

A week ago, Lee called a press conference urging the postponement of the two referendums, a suggestion the KMT supported, but which the DPP shrugged off. Lee said that their failures, which he believed to be an inevitable outcome, would cause "irreparable damage" to the country.

Following Lee's appeal, Huang said the KMT, as the party controlling a three-quarter majority in the legislature, ought to "show its sincerity" first by removing the requirement for a 50 percent turnout threshold from the Referendum Law (公民投票法).

"Simple majority referendums without minimum turnout thresholds are used in many countries. To implement democracy in Taiwan, the turnout threshold should be abolished," Huang said.

Separately, DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) expressed disapproval at Huang's suggestion.

"The DPP also supported removing the turnout threshold, but to pin your hopes on the KMT to amend the Referendum Law is just like climbing a tree to catch a fish," Ker said.

Ker said everyone, including the TSU, should work harder so that both referendums pass the threshold.

Director of the KMT's Central Policy Research Committee Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said amending the Referendum Law prior to next month's presidential poll would be too "political."

He said it would be more appropriate to deal with the amendment after the election, adding there would be insufficient time for the proposed amendment to pass a third reading before the poll.

Additional reporting by Flora Wang

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