KMT starts second phase of anti-ractopamine referendum campaign
Taipei, Jan. 5 (CNA) The Kuomintang (KMT) has officially begun to collect signatures in the second stage of its efforts to initiate a referendum opposing the government's decision to lift a ban on pork imports containing a controversial feed additive, it said Tuesday.
According to Taiwan's main opposition party, the referendum question would ask voters: "Do you agree that a ban should be in place to prohibit the import of pork and pork products containing ractopamine?"
Getting a referendum initiative to a vote in Taiwan requires passing two hurdles.
The first requires the signatures of 0.01 percent of the eligible voters in the most recent presidential election -- which would be 1,931 people based on the 19,311,105 people eligible to vote in the 2020 president poll.
That threshold was met after the signatures were obtained and then approved by the Central Election Commission (CEC) in December.
In the second stage, the KMT must collect the signatures of nearly 290,000 people, or 1.5 percent of eligible voters in the most recent presidential election, for the referendum to be held, according to the CEC.
KMT caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said at a press conference that the party hopes to collect more than 500,000 signatures by the March 21 deadline when they must be sent to the CEC for review in case some are later deemed to be invalid.
The party will set up 158 signature collection sites across the country in the coming weeks to reach the goal, Lin said.
Every KMT lawmaker will be responsible for collecting at least 1,000 signatures by the deadline. KMT now has 38 legislators in the 113-seat Legislative Yuan.
KMT Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) urged people in Taiwan to support the referendum initiative to safeguard people's health.
If the referendum initiative gets to a vote, it will need the support of 25 percent of all eligible voters in Taiwan, or around 5 million votes in favor, and the number of votes in favor must be greater than the number of votes against.
Under Taiwan's Referendum Act, referendums can only take place every two years on the fourth Saturday in August, with the next possible date being Aug. 28, 2021.
The new policy on ractopamine was announced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28.
She said her Democratic Progressive Party administration would set maximum residue levels (MRL) for ractopamine in pork to allow imports from the U.S., starting Jan. 1, 2021 in an apparent effort to clear the way for a trade deal with Washington.
Ractopamine, a highly controversial veterinary drug that makes animals leaner before slaughter, is banned for use in the European Union and China because of concerns over its safety to both animals and humans and is also banned for use in Taiwan.
The U.S., however, allows ractopamine use and has criticized Taiwan's zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine in pigs as an impediment to trade.
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