The Cabinet yesterday remove an amendment to the Referendum Law (公民投票法) implemented by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government that lowered the threshold to initiate a referendum and to determine its validity.
“This is not an indication of the government’s opposition to lower referendums thresholds, but rather in reaction to the fact that society is divided on the matter,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉) said.
The law, which was enacted by the Chinese Nationalist Party-dominated (KMT) legislature in 2003, stipulates that the number of signatures required for a referendum to be considered is 0.5 percent of the electorate participating in the latest presidential election — or approximately 16 million individuals — with an additional 5 percent of the population needed for a referendum to be held.
Describing the law as a “bird cage” law with excessively high thresholds for putting a referendum proposal on the ballot and passing it, the former DPP government had suggested cutting the threshold to 0.003 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
“The amendment would substantially reduce the threshold. As it is a major issue, further discussion is needed before consensus can be reached,” Lai said.
Lai said another matter was a constitutional interpretation by the Council of Grand Justices on July 11, which said that the party-based selection of members of the Referendum Supervisory Committee was unconstitutional.
The committee is authorized by law to review referendum petitions.
Grand justices said that the article concerning the make-up of the committee denied the premier the power of making personnel appointments and invalidated that ruling a year after it was made.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday passed an amendment to College Schools Law (專科學校法) that would allow disabled students to extend their years of study by abolishing existing regulation that stipulates a maximum delay of two years.
The Cabinet also approved a draft bill regarding the establishment of science parks to develop industrial clusters in the Agri-Bio technology sector.