Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

CEC accepts petition on Olympic name change

THRESHOLD MET:Household registration authorities verified 429,395 valid signatures on the referendum petition, which required a minimum of 281,745, the commission said

Staff writer, with CNA

A petition calling for a national referendum on whether Taiwan should compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei” has garnered more than the required number of signatures to put it to a public vote, the Central Election Committee (CEC) said yesterday.

The commission said it would hold a meeting today to review the petition and if the proposal is approved, the referendum would be held alongside the local government elections on Nov. 24.

The referendum would ask: “Do you agree Taiwan should use the name ‘Taiwan’ to participate in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and all other international sporting events?”

Household registration authorities have verified 429,395 valid signatures on the referendum petition, which required a minimum of 281,745 to get on the ballot, the commission said.

A total of 515,959 signatures were submitted last month, but authorities rejected 86,564, it said.

According to the commission, the invalid signatures included 32,865 with no residential address or an incorrect one; 15,480 duplicate signatures; 13,492 with no signature or seal; and 10,511 with no ID card number or an incorrect number.

A total of 5,148 signatures were likely forged, and 537, or 0.1 percent, were signed in the name of a dead person — much lower than the 77,194 that were likely forged and 11,849 “signed” by dead people on the air pollution reduction referendum proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕).

The name change petition was spearheaded by Chi Cheng (紀政), a track and field athlete who won a bronze medal in the 1968 Olympics.

The commission said that several other referendum proposals have also garnered the required number of signatures and would be reviewed at today’s meeting.

Among them is a proposal for a referendum on same-sex marriage, which seeks to ask whether civil law should define marriage as solely between a man and a woman, and another on whether sex-education in schools should include information about homosexuality.

In May last year, the Council of Grand Justices struck down as unconstitutional the definition of marriage as being “between a man and a woman” and gave the Legislative Yuan two years to pass legal provisions for same-sex marriage.

If the legislature fails to do so within the two years, the right to same-sex marriage would automatically take effect, the court ruled, putting Taiwan on track to become the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex unions.

However, groups opposed to gay marriage in Taiwan have initiated two referendum proposals that aim to block such a development and a third referendum proposal to ban same-sex education in schools.

Other referendum proposals that have the required number of signatures include two on environmental issues.

They seek to ask whether the government should halt its plans to build or expand coal-fired power plants, and whether it should maintain its ban on food and agricultural imports from Fukushima and nearby areas in Japan following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster.

A third referendum proposal that would ask whether the electricity output of thermal power plants should be lowered annually “by at least 1 percent on average” was submitted by Lu and approved by the commission on Oct. 2 and is to be included alongside the other proposals.

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