Court rejects TSU referendum appeal

QUICK DISMISSAL::The Taipei High Administrative Court turned down the party’s appeal, saying that the CEC acted legally in its rejection of the TSU’s referendum petition

By Lin Shu-hui  /  Staff Reporter, with Staff Writer

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 - Page 3

The Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday rejected the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s (TSU) administrative appeal against the Central Election Commission (CEC) for turning down the party’s petition to hold a referendum on the issue of Taiwan signing a cross-strait trade pact.

TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) filed the case with the court earlier this year after the Cabinet’s Referendum Review Committee rejected the TSU’s proposed referendum.

The TSU’s application requested a referendum on the question: “Do you agree that the government should sign an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China?”

The court yesterday ruled the commission’s decision was not in violation of the law.

Noting the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 645, the administrative court said the setup of the Referendum Review Committee was in line with the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and, therefore, constitutional. As the committee rejected the TSU’s proposal in a vote after holding the hearing, the CEC simply acted in accordance with the committee’s decision and turned down the TSU’s case, the ruling said.

Upon learning of the result, Huang yesterday said he would appeal the case.

The review committee’s decision was in violation of constitutional rights and a serious affront to Taiwan’s democracy, he alleged, adding that the committee had overstepped its jurisdiction by striking down all three referendum proposals previously pitched by the TSU.

Huang also accused the court of being a tool of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to choke the liberty of the people.

Ma’s judicial reforms were a hoax, he said, charging that after Ma was sworn in as president, agencies that were supposed to act independently, such as the CEC and the review committee, ceased to do so.

Calling the Referendum Act a “birdcage referendum” that does not protect the people’s rights, Huang urged the Legislative Yuan to amend the law as soon as -possible to re-empower the public.

The Referendum Act stipulates that a referendum proposal, after completing the first stage of collecting signatures from 0.5 percent of the number of eligible voters in the previous presidential election, must obtain approval from the Referendum Review Committee before it can proceed to the next stage, which involves collecting signatures from 5 percent of that same number. It must then pass a second review before making it to the polling stations.