Debates on 2 referenda set before legislative election

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Central Election Commission (CEC) will sponsor 10 debates or presentations on two national referenda to be held on Jan. 12 in conjunction with the next legislative election, starting December at a total cost of NT$15 million, according to CEC.

One national referendum, raised by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, is designed to “recover” illegally-gotten assets from the opposition Kuomintang, which had ruled Taiwan for over 50 years before the DPP took power in 2000. Such a proposed referendum has passed the screening by an ad hoc committee under the CEC. Another national referendum, dubbed the Anti-Corruption Referendum, is expected to be approved by Oct. 26, as the opposition Kuomintang has collected 820,000 endorsements for the proposal, higher than the threshold set by the CEC.

Both national referenda will be up for vote by nationals in conjunction with the Jan. 12 legislative election. According to the national referendum law, there will be five debates or presentations held for each proposed referendum, with each debate or presentation to cost some NT$1.5 million.

Starting December, the CEC will sponsor debates or presentations on Saturdays and Sundays via a selected wireless TV, at a total cost of NT$15 million for the scheduled 10 debates or presentations.

CEC officials said those who raise the national referenda bills and their opponents will be allowed to set up liaison offices and raise funds from the private sector, as long as they win prior approvals from the CEC.

In related news, President Chen Shui-bian yesterday urged local people to support national referendum on Taiwan’s bid to join the United Nations, so as to make more Americans support the UN bid. Chen said as long as the referendum wins the support of the majority of voters in Taiwan, say over 8 million, then the ratio of U.S. people supporting Taiwan’s bid to join the UN is expected to rise to 70 percent from 50 percent. As a result, the U.S. Congress and government may change their attitude and support the UN bid for Taiwan, Chen added.