The Referendum Review Committee (RRC) will hold a public hearing on Monday next week over a proposal by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) to hold a referendum on whether the committee should be abolished, with a final decision to approve or reject the proposal to be made on Dec. 23.
Despite the committee stating that the TSU proposal has met the signature benchmark and would be processed, committee officials privately said that the proposal had little chance of being passed.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) recently called for the committee to recuse itself from presiding over the case, as doing so would be a clear conflict of interest, adding that if the committee did not do so any result would be tainted.
Referendum Review Committee chairman Chao Yung-mao (趙永茂) said yesterday there were conflicting opinions on whether the committee’s involvement constituted a conflict of interest, adding that the committee would listen to the views of experts and academics at the public hearing.
However, Chao said the Central Election Commission (CEC) felt that the committee presiding over the review panel was in accordance with stipulations in the current version of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and that there was therefore no conflict of interest.
He added that whether its procedures should be changed or the committee itself be abolished would ultimately be determined by the legislature.
Meanwhile, some committee officials privately predicted that with the precedents of the TSU’s four previous proposals for referendums on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) all being rejected, the proposal to abolish the committee was very likely to go the same way.
Committee member Kuo Lin-yung (郭林勇) supported this view, saying that the TSU’s proposal would “never make it.”
However, Kuo said that even if the proposal were shot down, it would nevertheless draw attention to the issue of whether to abolish the committee, adding that the issue would ultimately be resolved by the legislature amending the Referendum Act.
Kuo said the public would finally start to ask whether the issue could be satisfactorily solved while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has a majority in the legislature.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) and others also said when reviewing the fiscal budget for next year that the committee’s review of referendum proposals and the dismissal of proposals signed by hundreds of thousands of citizens was not in keeping with the spirit of democracy.
It was also in violation of Article 2 of the Constitution, which states: “The sovereignty of the Republic of China [ROC] belongs to the will of the general public,” she added.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer