The Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting on Friday to determine how it should handle a referendum proposal submitted by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-heui (黃昆輝) before an official review of the proposal.
The question to be asked in a potential referendum “Do you agree to the government signing an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement [ECFA] with China?” — which Huang has now submitted for the third time — received initial approval from the Central Election Commission (CEC) earlier this month.
The ECFA, signed in June by semi-official bodies in Taiwan and China, is part of a process to liberalize trade in the Taiwan Strait. Although it has been welcomed by large corporations and investors, more traditional sectors of the economy in Taiwan, such as agriculture and small businesses, fear the impact of a wave of cheap Chinese products on the market. Many critics of the ECFA oppose the deal on the grounds that it is part of Beijing’s strategy to annex Taiwan.
According to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), a referendum proposal must receive the endorsement of 0.05 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the last presidential election. After the proposal is sent to the CEC, the commission will give it an initial review and if the proposal gets approval, the CEC will then refer it to the Referendum Review Committee for further review.
Once the committee approves the proposal, it will then be sent back to the CEC, which will ascertain the authenticity of the signatures and notify the petitioner to launch the second phase of the process, which involves collecting signatures from 0.5 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the last presidential election.
After the petitioner fulfills the requirement, the referendum proposal then has to go through the CEC and the Referendum Review Committee before making it to polling stations.
When Huang submitted similar proposals in April and in June, they were blocked by the Referendum Review Committee.
Sources have said the Referendum Review Committee would “likely follow precedent” by holding public hearings on Huang’s proposal and pick another date to review the proposal.
Additional reporting by Staff Writer