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CABINET APPROVES TWO REFERENDUM QUESTIONS

2004-02-04 21:42:38

    Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) The Cabinet approved at its weekly meeting Wednesday the two questions to be put forth for the nation's first-ever referendum to coincide with the March 20 presidential election.

    The two questions were listed in a letter sent by President Chen Shui-bian a day earlier detailing his rationale for holding the referendum.

    Quoting Chen's letter, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said at a news conference held after the Cabinet meeting that Beijing's repression of Taiwan in the international arena and its deployment of hundreds of missiles against the island constitute a threat that jeopardizes the country's sovereignty and that the danger justifies a presidential call for a referendum under the country's newly enacted Referendum Law.

    Yu said the upcoming referendum will mark a further step forward in Taiwan's democratic development as it will allow all eligible voters to decide major national policy issues. "A referendum is the most direct, evident and effective embodiment of democracy. We'll write a new chapter in our political history by holding the referendum," Yu said.

    He said the Cabinet will direct all relevant government agencies to administer referendum affairs based on the principles of "simplicity, convenience, prudence and impartiality."

    In order to prevent Beijing attacking Taiwan, the president said in his letter, the referendum will ask the following two questions: -- "The people of Taiwan demand that the Taiwan Strait issue be resolved through peaceful means. Should mainland China refuse to withdraw the missiles it has targeted at Taiwan and openly renounce the use of force against us, would you agree that the government should acquire more advanced anti-missile weapons to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities?" -- "Would you agree that our government should engage in negotiations with mainland China on the establishment of a peace and stability framework for cross-strait interactions to build consensus and for the welfare of the peoples of both sides?"

    Yu said the Cabinet will launch a publicity campaign to help local people better understand the gist of the planned referendum. "We'll make every possible effort to ensure that the historic referendum proceeds smoothly," Yu said.

    As part of the campaign, the Ministry of the Interior will distribute 8.5 million pamphlets to local households expounding on the gist and background of the referendum questions and all relevant technical details.

    The ministry will also produce two TV commercials to help local voters better understand the content and values of the first-ever nationwide referendum.

    Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien said all the publicity pamphlets and TV commercials will be ready for distribution and broadcast by Feb. 10.

(By Sofia Wu)

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