The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday launched a signature drive for a referendum against the government’s proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
The party said it hoped to collect enough signatures within a month to initiate a referendum mechanism.
The referendum, which is supported by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and close to 50 pro-independence groups, asks voters to state “whether they agree that the government should sign an economic agreement with China.”
TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said at a signature booth in Sanchong (三重), Taipei County, yesterday that if Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) really wanted Taiwanese to benefit and regards Taiwan as “China’s brother,” as he recently said, the Chinese government should then renounce taking over Taiwan by force.
Huang was referring to Wen’s comments at China’s National People’s Congress last Sunday, in which he said China would “let the people of Taiwan benefit” from tariff concessions and early harvest programs, adding that “relevant arrangements” in the trade pact would help reassure Taiwanese farmers.
Huang said that once the TSU completed the first phase and gathered 86,000 signatures, the petition would be sent to the government for review.
The Referendum Act (公民投票法) stipulates that the signatures of 0.5 percent of eligible voters in the last presidential election — approximately 86,000 — must be collected to apply to hold a referendum. In the second stage, 5 percent of those eligible to vote in the last presidential poll — approximately 860,000 — must sign the petition before the Cabinet’s Referendum Review Committee can screen the proposed referendum.
The TSU’s action is the second referendum drive on an ECFA. The first one, launched by the DPP, was turned down by the Cabinet’s Referendum Review Committee despite passing an initial Central Election Commission review.
The committee shot down the petition on the grounds that it was based on a hypothetical situation that did not meet the criteria set out in the Referendum Act.