The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday completed the first stage of its application to hold a referendum, delivering 150,000 signatures petitioning for a referendum on the government’s planned economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China to the Central Election Committee’s Referendum Review Committee.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the government should not seek to boycott or delay the referendum.
“The government would pay a serious price if it did so,” Tsai told a press conference yesterday held with Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) and former Examination Yuan president Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文).
The DPP worked with the TSU and pro-independence groups in obtaining the signatures for the referendum.
The Referendum Act (公民投票法) stipulates that the signatures of 0.5 percent of eligible voters — about 80,000 people — must be collected to apply to hold a referendum. In the second application stage, 5 percent of eligible voters — about 800,000 — must sign a petition before the proposed referendum can be screened by the Referendum Review Committee.
“We realize the referendum law is flawed, with such a high threshold for a referendum, and that collecting 1 million signatures is a tremendous challenge for the party,” Tsai said, but she added that the DPP would collect the 1 million signatures to make the referendum happen.
Arguing that signing an ECFA would change Taiwan’s future politically, economically, socially and culturally, Tsai said that at its core the economic treaty with China concerned Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Unlike what President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) claimed, the ECFA cannot be separated from the sovereignty issue, she said.
In its referendum proposal, the DPP said that because holding referendums to decide on significant national affairs was a growing trend internationally and that because signing an ECFA with China would have a serious impact on Taiwan’s future, the government should agree to hold the referendum.
Ma has said on numerous occasions that he opposes a referendum on an ECFA, saying it is unnecessary because no political items would be included in the agreement.
Ma’s policies on China have been the least transparent of his administration, Tsai said yesterday, adding that she had never seen a government refusing to face the public to such a degree.
Many of Ma’s policies on China are made without public discussion and legislative review, including opening Taiwan to Chinese investment, she said.
“When Ma told the public that signing an ECFA with China was significant and an emergency, he never saw fit to elaborate on the process of signing it and hasn’t elaborated on the content and purpose of such an agreement,” Tsai said.
When an administration fails to govern well, the people should uphold their right to make decisions or pass judgment on significant national affairs, Tsai said, calling on the public not to abandon the right to vote on the ECFA.
At a separate setting yesterday, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said of the referendum that “it would be a waste of government resources for the opposition party … since the benefits are already obvious to country’s business community.”
Deng, however, said it was the right of any opposition party to voice its opinion and use legal processes to express its views.
The ministry yesterday launched a series of cartoons to explain the doctrines of an ECFA, which it will distribute as brochures at various government-planned meetings throughout the country.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ELIZABETH TCHII
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would