Signature drive for ECFA referendum ahead of schedule

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, Apr 13, 2010 - Page 3

The first phase of a referendum on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) organized by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) will be completed a month ahead of schedule and with far more than the required number of signatures.

TSU officials told the Taipei Times yesterday they expected to be able to deliver nearly 200,000 signatures to the Executive ­Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee by the middle of this month, more than double the 86,000 signatures needed to pass the first review.

TSU Associate Director Chou Ni-an (周倪安) said the party’s projections were based on the ­overwhelming response it had received from non-profit organizations and grassroots movements.

In a show of support, the ­independence-leaning Neo Formosa Magazine delivered an additional 10,000 signatures to the TSU yesterday afternoon.

Among the signatures was that of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who according to his office secretary is a supporter of the referendum drive.

This was the second attempt at a referendum on the controversial trade pact.

A drive initiated by the DPP last year was rebuffed by the Referendum Review Committee despite having an initial review passed by the Central Election Commission.

The committee turned down the petition on the grounds that it was based on a hypothetical situation that did not meet the criteria of the Referendum Act (公投法).

TSU officials said yesterday that in light of government plans to sign the pact in June, these comments would no longer stand.

Chiang said that if the review committee once again rejected the proposal, pro-independence organizations and the TSU would have no choice but to band together and rally in support of the referendum, promising to send up to 1 million protesters onto the streets.

A DPP poll ­showed that 66.1 percent of the public supports holding a nationwide referendum before government agencies can sign the agreement.

The proposal by the TSU will ask voters to choose whether they agreed or disagree with the government signing any type of economic agreement with China, as exemplified by “President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) ECFA proposal.”

Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he had asked the Mainland Affairs Council and Ministry of Economic Affairs to provide DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) with information concerning an ECFA by April 19, one week ahead of their scheduled debate on the topic on April 25.