Sat, Mar 02, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Government officials’ poll remarks spark hullabaloo

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Both the Central Election Commission (CEC) and Ministry of the Interior yesterday retracted remarks by officials that the question to be asked in a proposed referendum on whether to complete construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be one that would alter the “status quo” if voters approve it.

Amid heated discussion of the referendum proposed by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), Central Election Commission secretary-general Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐) and Department of Civil Affairs director-general Huang Li-hsin (黃麗馨) triggered controversy when they were quoted by the Chinese-language United Daily News as saying yesterday that the question asked in the referendum should be one that would change the “status quo” if voters approve it.

The heads of both government agencies later played down the comments.

“Which question is asked or how the question is worded in a referendum proposal has nothing to do with the CEC, especially if a referendum is proposed by the legislature. Our job is to accept it and organize the referendum,” Central Election Commission Chairwoman Chang Po-ya (張博雅) said. “We are not involved [in deciding the question].”

She said that according to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), only referendums proposed by individuals, non-governmental organizations or political parties have to receive approval from the Referendum Review Committee before making it to polling stations.

“A referendum proposed by the legislature would automatically be valid without having to go through the review process,” she said.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus plans to take the initiative and propose the referendum in the legislature.

Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) made a similar remarks in the legislature yesterday.

“The ministry only deals with the administration of organizing a referendum; discussions on the question asked is the job of the Executive Yuan or the Legislative Yuan,” Lee said. “Of course, I have my own personal view on it, but I would rather not say what it is because it’s not the ministry’s business.”

Although the question has not been finalized, the KMT favors: “Do you support halting construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant?” while the Democratic Progressive Party and several anti-nuclear groups prefer the question: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should continue?”

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