KMT referendum promotion campaign launched

04/18/2021 04:13 PM
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CNA photo April 18, 2021
CNA photo April 18, 2021

Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) on Sunday kicked off a series of events to promote its referendum proposals that could be put to the vote this August.

In his opening address during the inaugural event, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said the KMT has submitted two referendum proposals to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for review.

One is an opposition to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's decision to lift a ban on pork imports containing the controversial leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

Another is a proposal that would allow referendums to be held in conjunction with major local elections.

According to Chiang, the reason for the KMT raising the two proposals is to oppose the DPP's move to push through these policies -- to which most Taiwanese are opposed.

The key to the passage of these referendum proposals is a high turnout rate, Chiang said, adding that this is the reason for the promotional events.

The events are aimed at first making all party members realize the importance of the referendum proposals before asking them to speak with local people to encourage them to cast their votes in the KMT's favor in August.

Under the Referendum Act, Aug. 28 is the next possible date for a referendum to be held.

According to the KMT, Sunday's event marked the first of dozens of such promotional events to be held in the nation's 73 electoral districts from mid-April to May, so that party officials across the country will be better trained and familiar with the topic.

These officials will then give speeches to voters across the country on the streets starting at the end of May for a total of 500 small-scale events before two larger events are staged in July and August before the referendum proposals are put to the vote.

The KMT had originally planned to kick off Sunday's campaign on April 10, but was postponed due to the deadly train accident in Hualien County on April 2 that left 49 people dead.

Meanwhile, the ruling DPP reiterated its stance that it will not initiate any referendum proposals in response to the KMT's initiatives.

DPP spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-fen (謝佩芬) said that as the ruling party, the DPP has the responsibility of taking the referendum votes as an opportunity to communicate with the people and explain the government's stance.

The people can be the judge to see which party is taking advantage of referendum votes to gain political points, she added.

Aside from the two KMT referendum proposals that are currently pending CEC approval, another proposal asking people whether they support the activation of Taiwan's mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, has already been approved by the CEC and will be put to the vote on Aug. 28.

A fourth proposal has been raised by local environmental groups opposed to the construction of a receiving terminal for natural gas that could threaten Taoyuan's Datan algal reef.

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.

In the second stage, an initiative must collect the signatures of 1.5 percent of eligible voters in the most recent presidential election, or 289,667 people, for the referendum to be held, according to the CEC.

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 larger than the number of votes against.

(By Wang Cheng-chung, Yeh Su-ping and Joseph Yeh)

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