Share this

Jun 8, 2010

Referendum Rejected!

Well, as Michael and David noted, the Referendum Review Committee struck down the TSU-initiated referendum drive on the ECFA. An RTI article explains the Chairman's rational, also noted in this Taipei Times article:

The TSU's application requested a referendum on the question: “Do you agree that the government should sign an ECFA with China?”

“The reason stated for the referendum proposal is to ask if the government has the right to sign an ECFA. However, the question asked in the proposal is about the contents of an ECFA, which is different from the stated reason,” Referendum Review Committee Chairman Chao Yung-mau (趙永茂) told a press conference after the five-hour meeting.

The committee had convened at 6pm.

Chao said a referendum proposal should be aimed at changing the status quo, but the government would not have to take any action to change its policy, even if the proposed referendum had passed, because of the wording — asking whether voters agree with the government’s plan to sign an ECFA.

“The referendum proposal, therefore, does not meet the qualification of ‘approving a government policy,’ as stated in the Referendum Act (公民投票法),” he said.
So the response outlines two reasons the referendum is rejected: first, because the "stated reason" for initiating the referendum differs from the content; and second, because even if passed, the referendum couldn't change government policy by the Committee's reasoning.

The TSU has naturally responded unfavorably to the Committee's reasoning:
The TSU yesterday said that the issue had already been settled in a previous meeting by the ­Central Election Committee (CEC), which it said had found that the TSU referendum question fulfilled the requirements under Article 14, Section 1.

In a letter sent to TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on May 5, the CEC wrote that the issue had been discussed in one of their meetings on May 4.

The letter, signed by CEC Chairman Lai Hau-min (賴浩敏), stated: “The 402nd meeting of [CEC] committee members finds that [the proposal] doesn’t invoke any circumstances of Article 14, Section 1 under the Referendum Act.”
And as you can imagine, the Committee chair responded to that:
In response, Referendum Review Committee Chairman Chao Yung-mau (趙永茂) said yesterday the committee was entitled to determine whether the TSU proposal complied with Article 14 of the Referendum Act even if the CEC had already reviewed it.

Determining that the TSU proposal was not in line with the article was just one of the reasons that the committee rejected the proposal, he added.
Just one of the two reasons, the other being highly debatable. I would argue that if the ECFA referendum passes and the ECFA is still signed by the administration, the legislature would be obliged to strike down the ECFA.

I think TSU appeals may have some chance of getting air time -- the committee's decision is hardly air tight. But I also agree with David that perhaps a new route is probably needed here, probably one to more thoroughly amend the referendum law rather than just abolishing the Referendum Review Committee.

Time constraints now make further ECFA referendum initiatives pretty useless -- everything is likely to be signed and law before a referendum could even reach the second threshold. Perhaps its time to move on to the larger issue of tackling of the "bird cage" referendum law.

No comments: