A group from the Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative (核四公投) is currently on a 168 hour hunger strike outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. They are protesting against the KMT's decision to boycott the DPP's referendum on Taiwan entering the UN.
The KMT yesterday announced that it would call for a boycott of the DPP's UN referendum to enter the UN using the name Taiwan. It is still supporting its own referendum on Taiwan entering the UN as the Republic of China or using any other practical name. However, some senior KMT members are calling for a boycott of both referendums. The Taipei Times reports:
Wu and KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) campaign manager Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said that the decision was a consensus reached between the party and the Ma camp, although some KMT members expressed their opposition to both referendums during yesterday's meeting.
"Although the KMT's version was presented by KMT vice presidential candidate Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), I will not support either referendum because of my opposition to holding them together with the election," KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) said.
KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) also called for a boycott of both referendums.
While urging voters to support the KMT's referendum bid, Wu said the party would respect members who boycott both referendums.
The Taipei Times editorial today writes that the KMT has made referendum a dirty word.
The KMT is obviously split along its China-Taiwan divide on the issue and the party's spat can only add to the public's sense of confusion, which has resulted in the term "referendum" almost becoming a dirty word among Taiwanese.
The KMT must take the lion's share of the blame for this phenomenon because from day one they have treated the issue of referendums — with the initiation of "smokescreen" rival plebiscites and irrational arguments about extra ballots "confusing" voters — with disdain.
I also wrote about the referendum boycott before the Legislative election in January. It is terribly unfortunate that the referendums have become so politicised. The DPP has perhaps made a mistake in promoting referendums when none of them are essential to the good governance of the nation. The DPP took a political risk hoping that it would increase voter turn out in the elections. However, the KMT's actions go beyond contempt. They could have simply campaigned for a no vote as happens in most normal democracies. They seem to determined to destroy the use of referendums as one pillar of democracy in Taiwan.
Michael Turton recently blogged on the Zogby poll which showed 85% of Taiwanese support petitioning the UN membership and 89% believe Taiwan should be offered UN membership. Of course this doesn't necessarily translate into how people will vote in the referendum. It seems the DPP's UN referendum has little chance of success. There is still a chance that the KMT's UN referendum might pass. The failure of both referendums would be a major setback to Taiwan's efforts to increase its participation in international organisations like the UN and WHO.