Protesting the KMT referendum boycott

Group from the Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative protesting outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei

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. 

5 thoughts on “Protesting the KMT referendum boycott

  1. 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.

    How so? The DPP will almost certainly continue to petition the UN for admission, regardless of the results of the referendum. Beyond that, the odds that the UN will admit Taiwan as long as China has a veto and cross-straight relations are this antagonistic.

    Due to the clear political slant of the Taipei Times, their editorials have to be taken with a big grain of salt. The same goes for most of their competition (with the possible exception of the Apple Daily).

  2. Mark, the problem stems from how the failure of the referendum would be perceived internationally, not what would happen in Taiwan. Also please read the section you quoted a little more carefully. I never actually said that Taiwan would be able to join the UN, but to increase its participation in international organisations.

    The Taipei Times and other newspapers in Taiwan certainly have their biases, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard everything that is written in them.

  3. It is unfortunate that the referendums have been made into political tools, but I think the DPP could have avoided this if it had chosen different, more realistic topics and not tied them to elections. I don’t think the KMT should bear all of the blame in this case.

  4. Poagao, I agree that the DPP has poorly chosen the questions to be put to a referendum. However, the KMT’s response has shown its total disregard for the democratic process. The KMT could have simply campaigned for a no vote and it is unlikely any of the proposed DPP referendums would have passed. Instead they have put forward their own referendums and then asked voters to boycott the referendums. It is completely beyond the pale.

  5. Pingback: 2008 Taiwan Presidential election result - David on Formosa

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