The Executive Yuan’s Committee of Appeal has upheld the Referendum Review Committee’s denial of a request from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to put the government’s planned economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China to a referendum.
If the DPP refuses to accept the decision, it could appeal to the Taipei High Administrative Court within two months.
Committee of Appeal chairman Chen Ter-shin (陳德新) refused to comment on the case yesterday, referring questions to the written decision posted on the commission’s Web site.
PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUN, TAIPEI TIMES
The DPP wants a referendum to ask the question: “Do you agree that the government should put the ECFA that Taiwan plans to sign with China to a referendum?”
The Referendum Review Committee turned down the petition by a vote of 13 to 4 with two abstentions on Aug. 27 last year.
The Committee of Appeal said it considered the rationale behind the Referendum Review Committee’s decision valid — that voters cannot express their approval or disapproval of the proposed ECFA because it lacks substantial content.
QUESTION OF CONTENT
“The substantive content of the ECFA will be decided by [ongoing cross-strait] negotiation,” the decision states.
“The content is still under deliberation and thus it is unclear. Given that, it is not a subject to ask people their opinions about,” the decision states.
In its appeal, the DPP objected to another reason given by the Referendum Review Committee — that the referendum subject did not fall under one of the four categories applicable for a national referendum: Referendum of laws, initiative of legislative principles, initiative or referendum of import policies, or referendum to amend the Constitution.
The DPP said in its appeal that the ECFA, which concerns the economic sovereignty of the country and major rights and obligations of the people, was a matter of initiative of legislative principles and a matter of important policies.
Saying that the question it asked was more concrete and clearer than the two previous referendums initiated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the DPP said the Referendum Review Committee had been prejudiced in making its decision.
The first KMT-initiated referendum referred to was held in January 2008 and asked voters if they would agree to authorize the legislature to investigate officials suspected of corruption.
The second one was held in March 2008 and asked voters if the nation should apply to return to the UN under the name “Republic of China” or any other practical and dignified title.
The Committee of Appeal also sided with the Referendum Review Committee on this point, saying there was no comparison between the DPP’s proposal and the previous referendum subjects.
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