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KMT's U.N. referendum to move to 2nd phase

Proposal requires signatures of 5 percent of electorate in order to be put to a vote

KMT's U.N. referendum to move to 2nd phase

The Cabinet's Referendum Review Committee yesterday gave the green light to a Kuomintang-initiated referendum on Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations with a vote of eight to four, setting the stage for a second-phase endorsement drive for the referendum proposal.
The four committee members who voted against the proposal were two members from the KMT-allied People First Party, one from the Taiwan Solidarity Union and one from a Non-Partisan Solidarity Union member. All eight members from the KMT voted in support of their party's proposal.
The referendum question asks, "Do you agree on Taiwan's using a practical and flexible name to apply for reentering the U.N. as well as joining other international organizations? In other words, do you agree on Taiwan applying for reentering the U.N. and other international organizations under the name of Republic of China, Taiwan, or any other name that would be helpful both to the U.N. bid and to maintaining Taiwan's dignity?"
According to the Referendum Law, the second-phase of the referendum endorsement drive would require signatures from 5 percent of the electorate based on numbers from the last presidential election, which amounts to approximately 825,359 votes, in order for the referendum topic to be accepted as valid. A referendum on the topic would then have to take place within six months of the official announcement of the topic by the Central Election Commission.
The Referendum Law allows referendums to be held on the same date as national elections.
The KMT-proposed referendum, initiated by the opposition party's vice presidential candidate, Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), is generally expected to gain approval by the committee, which is dominated by the KMT.
According to the referendum law, the committee is comprised of 21 seats apportioned according to party representation in the Legislature, which means that currently the opposition KMT has a majority on the committee.
All eight committee members from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party resigned in June because the committee struck down a Democratic Progressive Party proposal on joining the U.N. under the name of "Taiwan." The committee had rejected the DPP's U.N. referendum proposal with a vote of 12 to eight.
Committee Chairman Kao Yuang-kuang said that the committee had decided to veto the proposal because referendums were reserved for controversial issues of public concern. However, the U.N. issue was not considered controversial enough, as most committee members believed that most of the Taiwanese people wanted Taiwan to rejoin the U.N., Kao said.
In essence, the KMT's U.N. referendum proposal is very similar to the DPP's original proposal, with the exception that the KMT does not stipulate the name under which Taiwan should enter the U.N., as opposed to the DPP's insistence on using the name "Taiwan."
Both the KMT and the DPP referendum proposals are seen as highly politically motivated. The DPP measure was labeled by some political pundits as a political maneuver to win votes in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections, while the KMT's move has been viewed as a countermeasure.
The U.S. has consistently expressed strong opposition to the DPP's referendum proposal, saying that such a referendum would have no practical impact on Taiwan's U.N. status and would increase tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte reiterated yesterday that the U.S. opposes Taiwan's referendum proposal on its U.N. bid because the U.S. understands it as a step towards Taiwan independence and thus towards changing the status quo.
In response, Taiwan's Foreign Minister James Huang (黃志芳) said that the U.S. was misinterpreting Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum on its U.N. bid.
Meanwhile, the PFP voiced its opposition to both the DPP and KMT U.N. referendum proposals, citing along similar reasons as the U.S.
Taking Negroponte's comment into consideration, KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin tried to differentiate between the KMT and DPP versions, saying that the KMT is not seeking Taiwan independence as part of its referendum proposal.
A referendum topic would require the support of at least half of the total electorate in the country in order for it to be legally upheld, according to the referendum law.


Updated : 2021-05-16 00:50 GMT+08:00