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
‘UNPRECEDENTED’: Taiwan’s envoy said that official wording framing Taiwan-China issues as not about unification or independence counters the narrative Beijing wants Use of the phrase “democratic Taiwan” by Germany’s new coalition government in official document shows that Taiwan-China issues are not about “independence” against “unification,” but about democracy against authoritarianism, Representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said yesterday. Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Free Democratic Party and the Greens — known as the “traffic light coalition” for their colors — on Wednesday inked a coalition agreement following elections on Sept. 26. The agreement, a blueprint for their governance for the next four years, mentions “Taiwan,” which is unprecedented, showing that the new German government is paying close attention to cross-strait peace and supports Taiwan’s
‘BADGE OF HONOR’: Lithuanian lawmaker Dovile Sakaliene, who is on China’s travel ban list, said delegation members joked that they would be joining her on it soon A delegation led by the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan yesterday arrived in Taipei to participate in a conference on democracy later this week. The group, led by Matas Maldeikis, a Lithuanian lawmaker and an outspoken critic of China, touched down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 6:18am yesterday. Maldeikis said at the airport that he expected the trip to enhance understanding between Taiwan and Lithuania after cooperation between the two sides took a big step forward this past year. “This trip will be another step in understanding each other because we are dealing with the same challenges,”
GET A BOOST: After considering the potential for local outbreaks amid an increase in cases abroad, a committee recommended adolescents receive their second shots The level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended until Dec. 13, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday, as it advised people in six high-risk groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. It also recommended that adolescents aged 12 to 17 who had a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receive a second shot. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the nationwide level 2 alert would remain in place for two more weeks from today. Chen said that during New Year’s events eating and drinking might be allowed in designated areas, while
‘HISTORIC’: The passage of the resolution by both chambers of the French parliament shows their concrete support for Taiwan’s global participation, the foreign ministry said The government yesterday thanked the French National Assembly for adopting a resolution on Monday in support of Taiwan’s international participation, following a similar resolution passed by the French Senate in May. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the resolution’s passage as “historic” and as demonstrating the concrete support of both chambers of the French parliament for Taiwan’s participation in international affairs. Taiwan and France have shared a long-standing partnership characterized by a high level of trust, and based on the shared values of democracy, freedom and human rights, the ministry said. Passed on Monday in a 39-2 vote with three abstentions, the non-legally