Activists march to back call for change to Referendum Act

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - Page 3

Some 100 people joined with pro-independence groups in an “Annunciation parade” on Christmas Day yesterday, voicing their support for reforms to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and the electoral system.

“The Bible says that angels announced Jesus’ birth and that Jesus brought love, peace, justice and truth to the world,” former Taiwan Association of University Professors chairman Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) said.

Tsay has been in a sit-in demonstration outside the Legislative Yuan to demand changes to the Referendum Act and the electoral system.

“In the same sense, a real referendum system — an act of direct democracy — and improved legislative elections would help our country become a better and more just place through peaceful means,” Tsay said, explaining why the parade was being staged.

The Referendum Act requires a high number of petitioners for a proposed intiative to gain approval. Once it reaches polling stations, more than 50 percent of registered voters have to cast their votes and more than 50 percent of those must vote “yes” for the referendum to pass.

The activists also believe the legislative election system is unfair, since each county and city, regardless of its size or population, must have at least one representative in the legislature.

“This [parade] is about good news and we want to spread the word to as many people as possible,” Union of Taiwanese Teachers chairwoman Wu Li-hui (吳麗慧) said.

“Christmas symbolizes love, peace and justice, and we want to tell people about our ideas through peaceful means,” she told the marchers.

“We still have a long way to go, but we will make it because each step we walk is filled with love,” she said.

The demonstrators set off following a prayer service, walking silently in single file and holding signs showing their demands, while volunteers wearing read Santa Claus hats handed out fliers and banners that read “give me back my civil rights” to passers-by. The parade finished peacefully two hours later.