Sun, Feb 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

KMT’s Hau vows to revive food ban referendum drive

RELENTLESS:If the signatures collected by Hau are recognized by the election commission, he will restart the process immediately, his office said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) is planning to revive a referendum drive he initiated in 2016 to continue the nation’s import ban on Japanese food products that might have been contaminated by radiation amid reports that the ban could be relaxed after the Lunar New Year holiday.

The referendum drive, initiated in December 2016 by a civil alliance on food safety established by Hau, had collected 110,000 signatures, far higher than the revised threshold of 1,800 for initiating national and regional referendums, Hau’s office spokeswoman Yu Shu-hui (游淑慧) said in a news release yesterday.

Under the amended Referendum Act (公民投票法), which was passed by the legislature in December last year, the threshold for initiating a referendum is 0.0001 percent of the electorate in the last presidential election, or about 1,800 signatures, down from 0.005 percent, or about 90,000.

Considering that the Central Election Commission has published a revised petition form, Yu said the alliance has sent an inquiry about the legality of the 110,000 signatures.

“If the commission recognizes the signatures’ legality, the alliance will restart the referendum initiation process accordingly... If not, Hau will invite all the people who had signed to do it again,” Yu said.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, the government banned imports of food produced in Japan’s Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.

It tightened restrictions in 2015, after products from the prefectures were discovered on the market, drawing strong criticism from the Japanese government.

The government in 2016 said it was considering lifting the ban on food imports from all prefectures except Fukushima, but there was heavy opposition.

The referendum drive was shelved after then-premier Lin Chuan (林全) early last year pledged that the ban would not be relaxed, Yu said.

It was also postponed due to the possibility of a lowered threshold, she added.

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