The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is on Jan. 6 to launch a nationwide signature drive to put the importation of US pork containing traces of ractopamine on the ballot, KMT caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said yesterday.
Lin is the lead proposer of a national referendum that would ask voters if they agree that the government should impose a complete ban on the importation of meat, offal and related products from pigs fed the controversial animal feed additive.
The KMT on Sept. 6 presented the referendum proposal at its National Congress in Taipei, after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced on Aug. 28 the government’s decision to ease restrictions on the importation of US pork containing traces of ractopamine and beef from cattle aged 30 months or older.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
The Central Election Commission (CEC) on Friday last week said that the proposal met the requirements of the first stage after satisfying a Nov. 25 request for clarification, and that it would ask household registration authorities to verify the list of proposers within 15 days.
In the second stage — the signature drive — the KMT has six months to submit a list of nearly 290,000 valid signatures, or no less than 1.5 percent of the total electorate in the most recent presidential election, to comply with the Referendum Act (公民投票法).
Commission data showed that 19,311,105 people were eligible to vote in the Jan. 11 election.
The KMT’s goal is to collect 500,000 signatures, Lin said early yesterday morning, before the start of the legislature’s review of administrative directives and proposed legal amendments related to the government’s decision on US pork.
Lin spoke to reporters in front of the Legislative Yuan’s Chun-hsien Building (群賢樓) in Taipei, where KMT lawmakers spent the night to demonstrate their “firm” opposition to the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine.
Speaking on Wednesday evening from a stage set up on Jinan Road (濟南路), KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that yesterday’s vote would not be the “final battleground” in the bid by the KMT and its supporters to block such pork products.
“On Aug. 28 next year, let us use our votes to decide what kind of pork we want to eat,” he said, referring to the earliest possible date for the proposed referendum.
The Referendum Act stipulates that referendums from next year are to be held once every two years on the fourth Saturday of August.
The KMT was scheduled to hold a rally outside the Legislative Yuan yesterday, with former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expected to participate.
However, the KMT on Wednesday afternoon said that it canceled all protest activities planned for yesterday, after the Central Epidemic Command Center on Tuesday announced the nation’s first domestic COVID-19 case in more than eight months.
Despite the cancelation, dozens of supporters still gathered on Jinan Road to watch a live broadcast of the proceedings inside the legislative chamber on a large screen.
The KMT livestreamed the voting on Facebook, with KMT Chairman Office director Yeh Hsu-hung (葉旭鴻), KMT Youth Department director Chen Kuan-an (陳冠安), and KMT spokeswoman and New Taipei City Councilor Chiang I-chen (江怡臻) among those providing live commentary.
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