DPP referendum bills get shut down

By Joseph Yeh,The China Post

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT)-dominated legislature yesterday blocked an opposition-proposed bill that gives the Executive Yuan the rights to hold a referendum on all future cross-strait negotiations before and after talks. KMT lawmakers which hold majority in the Legislative Yuan also blocked other proposals raised by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in lowering the high threshold for putting a referendum proposal on the ballot. The DPP-proposed amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) were rejected after a vote by the Procedure Committee yesterday morning and therefore excluded the bills from the agenda of the legislative session. The opposition’s draft amendment to the Article 16-1 of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) proposes granting the Executive Yuan the authority to hold a referendum on negotiations between the Republic of China (R.O.C.) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

A national referendum would also be required before and after all negotiations, the proposal noted. After the bills’ failure to clear the committee, DPP lawmakers focused harsh criticism on their KMT counterparts, saying legislators lack individuality and could only follow orders from the ruling administration in stopping the bills. The blocking of the proposal by the KMT only shows that President Ma Ying-jeou’s pledge to hold a referendum before proceeding with talks with China on a peace agreement was an empty promise and a tool to win elections, said DPP caucus Secretary-General Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠).

DPP’s Bills ‘Crudely made’: KMT In response, KMT lawmaker Lin Yi- shih (林益世), who doubled as the party’s Central Policy Committee Chief Executive, said the DPP’s proposals were “well-intentioned but crudely made,” and the lawmaking body could never clear such loosely-made amendments. KMT caucus whip Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲) also accused the opposition party of flip-flopping regarding the referendum issue. Citing previous Legislative Yuan documents, Chao said the DPP’s presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen has previously proposed that the two sides of the Strait sign a similar agreement to build a framework for cross-strait peace and stability, together with former president Chen Shui-bian during her capacity as Mainland Affairs Council minister in 2004.

However, Tsai later claimed that the then ruling DPP administration would continue to push the framework disregarding whether the referendum on the issue would pass or not. “This is a clear evidence to show that Tsai was using the referendum merely as a campaign tool,” said Chao, adding that the KMT will not engage in such campaign maneuvering with the opposition party. (Related story on page 20)