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Fast by Ex-DPP chair-led group to push for Referendum Act change ends

2017/05/11 20:34:02

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄, center)

Taipei, May 11 (CNA) Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄) and a foundation established by him on Thursday ended their 16-day "relay fast" outside the headquarters of the ruling party aimed at pushing for revisions to the Referendum Act.

Lin joined the fast on Thursday morning and the group marched around the DPP headquarters in the afternoon.

In a statement issued after the end of the fast, the People Rule Foundation (人民作主教育基金會) -- which was launched by Lin -- stressed the important role played by referendums in a democracy and the need to revise the existing Referendum Act.

Lin did not speak or take questions from the media at the end of the fast.

The Referendum Act, passed on Nov. 27, 2003 by a Kuomintang and People First Party-led Legislature, is filled with articles that go against the spirit of direct civil rights, such as the high threshold for proposing a referendum, the foundation said.

It argued that the act also has an "unreasonably" high turnout rate required for its passage and includes a referendum screening committee, which the group said makes it almost "impossible" to pass a referendum.

"No referendum has been passed since the act was implemented 14 years ago," the foundation said.

Although the previous DPP government (2000-2008) had wanted to make amendments to the act, it had not been able to do so due to the Kuomintang and People First Party controlled Legislature, the statement said.

Although the DPP has returned to power and also holds a majority in the Legislature, the government has failed to push for changes to the act, forcing the foundation to hold the fast and draw greater attention to the issue, it said.

Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), deputy secretary general of the DPP, visited the fasting group on Thursday morning, pledging on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to work to ensure several major law amendments and bills clear the legislative floor by the end of this year, including revisions to the Referendum Act.

Cho was citing remarks by Tsai -- who doubles as DPP chairwoman -- made during the party's Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday.

In April 2014, Lin went on a hunger strike to call for the halt of work on the nearly completed fourth nuclear power plant, which contributed to the plant's shutdown before operations began.

(By Sophia Yeh and Elaine Hou)