Referendum campaign for UN `Taiwan' bid initiated

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Feb 07, 2007 - Page 3

Several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators and senior pro-independence advocate Lee Hung-hsi (李鴻禧) yesterday initiated a referendum campaign aimed at promoting the nation's participation in the UN under the name "Taiwan."

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said at a press conference that they hoped to hold the referendum jointly with the year-end legislative election, possibly with another DPP-initiated referendum on the recovery of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) stolen assets.

"President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) previously mentioned that he would like the nation to apply for UN membership under the name of Taiwan. His statement highlighted the legitimacy of doing so," Gao said.

Lee, seen by many as President Chen's mentor, said "two immutable facts" remained after Japan gave up sovereignty over Taiwan: there are two "Chinas" and Taiwan and China are two different countries.

All the talk about unification with China was unrealistic because after the People's Republic of China took over the UN seat, the Republic of China (ROC) no longer enjoyed recognition by the international community, Lee said.

"Taiwan has gone down the path of delivering a new constitution and correcting the nation's title," added Lee, who formerly served as Ketagalan Academy president and is now convenor of the government's New Constitution Workshop. "There is no turning back."

DPP Legislator Chen Tsiao-long (陳朝龍), who also joined the campaign, said promoting such a referendum would help bypass the constitutional restriction to the effect that the name of the nation is ROC, because the power of referendum is superior to any other laws.

"If we don't do this today, we will regret it in the future," he said.

The Referendum Law (公投法) says that the signatures of 0.5 percent of the nation's eligible voters, or 83,000 signatures, are needed for a referendum proposal to be established.

After passing the threshold, another 830,000 signatures have to be gathered within six months for a referendum to be held.