DPP works with Chai on revised referendum bill

HARMONY?:Internal differences were resolved as the two sides merged their versions into a compromise to be proposed in today's inter-party negotiations

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jul 09, 2003 - Page 3

The DPP finally reached an agreement yesterday to merge the version of the referendum law drafted by pro-independence Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) with the party's version, which is more conservative.

To settle the internal discrepancies on whether to support Chai's version or the party's, the DPP's Central Standing Committee yesterday ruled to integrate the two into a compromise bill.

The compromise bill is slated to be proposed in today's legislative inter-party negotiation meetings. Chai is expected to take the lead in proposing the revised bill.

The DPP Legislative Caucus said yesterday the party would take Chai's draft as the main body of the integrated version to dispel the opposition camp's claim that Chai's original bill advocated holding a referendum on controversial unification issues.

The DPP's version of a referendum law, which was only completed on Monday, reflects the party's conservative stance on addressing issues related to Taiwan's sovereignty and insists that a referendum on such issues would only be called if the nation is threatened.

Unlike Chai's original draft, the DPP's bill states that Taiwan is already an independent sovereign country, and excludes the possibility of calling a referendum to decide on independence.

Chai's version has the backing of many DPP pro-independence stalwarts. The legislature is at an impasse on what version of the referendum law would be reviewed during its three-day extraordinary session.

DPP Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said "such differences of opinions before the Central Standing Committee are normal since the party can always reach a decision in the end. This case was no exception."

DPP Legislator Lawrence Gao (高志鵬) said that a special task force of seven senior party members would be responsible for the merging of the two referendum bills.

Chai, who has been promoting the legislation of a plebiscite law for the past decade, asserted in his original bill that a plebiscite should be adopted to decide any alteration to the nation's flag, name, territory and other issues concerning sovereignty in addition to other major domestic issues.

But that version ran contrary to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "five-nos," which include not holding a referendum on changing Taiwan's status quo and sovereignty as long as China doesn't use force against the country.

In related news, at the DPP's Central Standing Committee meeting, Chen again pledged to support You Ying-lung's (游盈隆) candidacy for the Hualien County Commissioner by-election.

The party's campaign team will be headed by Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), chief of the Cabinet's anti-SARS committee, and DPP Legislator Lu Po-chi (盧博基), a prominent politician in Hualien.