The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday said that it would start collecting signatures to initiate a referendum against the government’s decision to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 announced that Taiwan would ease restrictions on imports of US pork containing ractopamine and beef from cattle aged 30 months or older, adding that the decision is “based on our national economic interests and consistent with our overall strategic goals for the future.”
The new policies are to take effect on Jan. 1 next year.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) yesterday led dozens of KMT representatives at a news conference outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei during lunch break at the party’s National Congress to announce the launch of the referendum drive.
They chanted slogans including “Safeguard democracy, protect Taiwan,” “Reject leanness enhancing additives,” and “Support Taiwanese pork,” while holding signs bearing similar messages.
Tsai made the decision to allow the importation of US pork and beef without legislative supervision, communication with the public or local governments, or regard for the development of the local industry, Chiang said.
“President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected with 8.17 million votes,” he said. “She thinks she can do as she pleases.”
“We must call on all people to stand up,” Chiang said, adding: “You [the public] gave her authorization, you can also take back the power.”
The KMT would on Saturday initiate a referendum petition in the nation’s various cities and counties, he said.
The proposed referendum question would read: “Do you agree to a total ban on the importation of pork and related products containing leanness enhancing additives (ractopamine and other beta agonists)?” the KMT said.
Speaking at the news conference, Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Li-shan (張麗善) of the KMT said that there are 1.56 million pigs in the county, or nearly 40 percent of the nation’s total number.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said that circumstances have changed when it explained the reason for allowing US pork and beef imports, Chang said.
What has changed is that the DPP used to be the opposition party, but is now the ruling party, she added.
“What is the only thing that has not changed? It is that US pork containing leanness enhancing additives harms bodily health,” she added.
Chang pledged that her county would continue to ban ractopamine even if the central government sets maximum residue limits “to safeguard the health of the public.”
Under the Referendum Act (公民投票法), referendums can be held every two years, with the next possible date being Aug. 28, next year.
To hold a national referendum, a number equal to 1.5 percent of voters in the most recent presidential election must sign a petition supporting the referendum proposal.
There were 19,311,105 eligible voters in the Jan. 11 presidential election, according to Central Election Commission data.
Additional reporting by CNA
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