Sat, Jun 22, 2019 - Page 3 News List

KMT planning mass rally against referendum rules

By Shih Hsiao-kuang, Huang Hsin-po and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Democratic Progressive Party legislators on Monday hold up blank placards to protect themselves against water balloons hurled by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei following the passage of amendments to the Referendum Act.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is planning to hold a rally of 100,000 people on July 7 to protest the decoupling of referendums from elections.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-controlled Legislative Yuan on Monday passed amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) which stipulate that referendums can only be held every two years on the fourth Saturday of August, starting in 2021.

That means that they cannot be held alongside the presidential election in January next year or subsequent presidential or local government elections.

KMT chapters and organizations are scrambling to mobilize supporters to ensure that 100,000 people attend the rally, a party source who declined to be named said on Thursday.

Speakers at the demonstration are to include KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the party’s five presidential hopefuls — Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), National Taiwan University political science professor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) and former Taipei County commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), the source said.

The KMT’s legislative nominees are expected to make an appearance, and the party’s leadership is reaching out to groups against same-sex marriage and those who support nuclear power, the source said.

The party has also extended an invitation to former president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) of the DPP, who has criticized her party for passing the amendment, they said.

An application to hold a protest on Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard from 3pm to 5pm has been submitted to the Taipei City Government, the source said.

“President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has turned the ‘birdcage’ act into an iron cage and should be rejected by the public come January next year,” the source said.

Lu on Thursday reiterated that the passage of the amendments was “a day of catastrophe for referendums,” adding that DPP members had been “arrogant and irresponsible” in pushing the legislation forward.

Acknowledging that there were problems with the law, Lu said that the amendments were not an appropriate solution, likening it to “sawing a leg off to cure a headache.”

With the passage of the amendments and a slew of rulings by the Central Election Committee, nine referendum proposals had effectually been nullified, including her own, she said.

She had worked for nearly four years on a referendum proposal for Taiwan to declare itself a permanent neutral state and it met all the legal requirements prior to the amendments, which have left her with no legal recourse, Lu said.

“I suspect the Legislative Yuan and the Central Election Committee have worked together to perform an abortion on the right to referendums,” she added.

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