Thu, Jan 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

DPP lawmaker to propose changes to Referendum Act

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Chuang Jui-hsiung, left, and Chen Ou-po hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) yesterday said that he would propose amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to allow the Central Election Commission to decide whether to hold referendums on the same day as an election and to require a headline for referendums.

The proposed amendments were designed to address a number of “execution difficulties” that arose in the referendums held on Nov. 24 last year following changes to the act in December 2017, Chen told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Holding referendums and elections on the same day not only slows the polling process, but gives the public little time to understand the subject of a referendum, Chen said.

To prevent those problems from reoccurring, the act should be amended so that the commission can decide whether to hold a referendum on the same day as an election, he said.

Referendum ballots should also have a headline summarizing the proposal to make them easier to understand, he added.

“Article 9 of the act requires a referendum’s initiator to provide the main text of the proposal, a statement of reasons and other items, but not a headline,” Chen said.

“A headline that is concise and clear would make the voting process more efficient,” he said.

“As the ruling party, there are many laws and amendments that we should review,” Chen said, adding that he hopes to set the wheel in motion by offering his own draft amendments.

Chen is not the first DPP legislator to propose an amendment to the act since the Nov. 24 referendums.

The DPP caucus on Dec. 7 last year held a meeting to discuss amending the act and formed a team, led by legislators Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) and Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), tasked with studying draft amendments.

Since then, six amendments — drafted by Lee and DPP legislators Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧), Chen Lai Su-mei (陳賴素美), Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), Lu Sun-ling (呂孫綾), Shih Yi-fang (施義芳) and Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), as well as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Jason Hsu (許毓仁) — have been proposed for legislative review.

The 2017 amendment, which significantly lowered the thresholds for initiating and passing a referendum, has led to a dramatic increase in the number of referendums held.

On Nov. 24 last year, 10 referendums were held alongside the nine-in-one elections, significantly slowing the polling process. At some polling stations, people were still voting after other stations had begun counting ballots, raising concerns over the election’s fairness.

Article 23 of the act stipulates that a referendum that has passed the commission’s final review must be held a least one month later and within six months; and if any national election has been scheduled to take place within that period, the referendum must be held on the same day.

This story has been viewed 1844 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top