DPP optimistic about referendum proposal

HYPOTHETICAL NO MORE:As the KMT government hopes to sign an ECFA with China this month, the DPP believes there is no reason to reject the proposed referendum

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Jun 03, 2010 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday expressed optimism ahead of today’s decision from the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee on the validity of a referendum proposal asking voters if they support the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

The 21-member committee is scheduled to deliver a verdict on whether the proposal, initiated by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), will be allowed to take place under the Referendum Act (公民投票法).

A similar plan by the DPP was rejected by the committee last year after it ruled that its referendum question was based on a hypothetical situation that did not meet the Referendum Act’s criteria.

DPP lawmakers said yesterday they hoped the screening committee would not make the same mistake twice.

“A referendum is the public’s most basic democratic right. The review committee should endorse this proposal and give the public a say over an ECFA,” DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said.

DPP Legislator Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) said that based on concerns over the agreement’s impact on the economy and its danger to Taiwan’s democracy, “there was no reason for the committee to turn down the proposal.”

Opposition parties have rallied behind the TSU’s referendum proposal.

They say the propsed ECFA could affect millions of Taiwanese jobs and devastate the more vulnerable traditional industries.

DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said an ECFA could lead to Taiwan becoming more dependent both politically and economically on China, saying that “Taiwan should not make China its international gateway.”

While crowds are expected to gather ahead of the ruling, Lin said the DPP would wait for their verdict before making decisions on how it would react.

The DPP has scheduled to hold an event in support of an ECFA referendum at Kaohsiung City’s Glory Pier tomorrow.

Both DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) are expected to speak out publicly for the proposal there.

A larger protest by the DPP for an ECFA referendum in Taipei City is also expected to take place in the middle of this month, although the exact date has yet to be announced.

Organizers said they hope the ECFA referendum can be put to a vote on Nov. 27 — alongside the special municipality elections — if passed by today’s screening committee.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, hoping to sign the agreement with China by end of this month, has maintained that the cross-strait pact would benefit Taiwan’s export-based economy and aid its chances of signing free-trade agreements with other countries.

Senior government officials have also previously stated that there is no need to hold a public vote on the issue, as it would be reviewed by the legislature before becoming valid.

KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) yesterday dismissed the TSU’s allegation that the KMT attempted to interfere with the screening process and influence the committee’s final decision.

“The KMT supports the people’s right to participate in referendums if the legal process is followed,” Su said.