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CABINET WELCOMES 'NAY' SIDE FOR REFERENDUM DEBATE: SPOKESMAN

2004-02-17 20:39:17

    Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) The Cabinet said Tuesday it is pleased to learn that three celebrities have decided to form a team to represent those opposed to the March 20 referendum in 10 televised debates on the two referendum questions.

    Cabinet spokesman Lin Chia-lung made the remarks after independent Legislator Sisy Chen, noted media personality Jaw Shao-kong and writer Li Ao announced their decision to team up to serve as the "nay" side in the TV debates to be organized by the Central Election Commission (CEC). "We welcome the formation of the team that will join us in writing a new chapter in our democratic history, " Lin said, adding that the formation of the "nay" side marks a positive development in Taiwan's political history.

    The CEC invited the private sector to form a team to represent referendum opponents in 10 scheduled live TV debates after no opposition political parties in the Legislative Yuan expressed any desire to represent the opposition side before the dateline expired Monday.

    The debates -- five for each of the two referendum questions -- will pit the Executive Yuan, which is charged with implementing the referendum, against those opposed to the Executive Yuan's views.

    According to the newly passed Referendum Act, the CEC has to organize five live TV debates for each referendum question.

    For each referendum question, the "yea" and the "nay" sides must each recommend one to five people to take part in the debates.

    The debates will be held between Feb. 20 and March 19, according to the CEC plan.

    The two questions to be asked in the March 20 referendum alongside the presidential election are: -- Should mainland China refuse to withdraw the missiles it has targeted at Taiwan and openly renounce the use of force against us, do you agree that the government should acquire more advance anti-missile weapons to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities? -- Do you agree that our government should engage in negotiation with mainland China over the establishment of a peace and stability framework for cross-strait interaction in order to build consensus and for the welfare of the people of both sides?

(By Sofia Wu)

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