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TAIWAN REFERENDUM NONE OF BEIJING'S BUSINESS: MA

2004-03-15 14:00:59

    Taipei, March 15 (CNA) Taiwan's holding of a referendum is none of Beijing's business, and mainland Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao should not interfere in Taiwan's internal affairs, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said Monday.

    Ma, who is a campaign manager of the opposition "pan-blue alliance's" presidential ticket of Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan and People First Party Chairman James Soong, made the remarks in response to Wen's comments Sunday about the referendum scheduled for the day of the presidential election March 20.

    Wen reportedly said at a press conference in Beijing upon the closing of the second session of the 10th National People's Congress that "the March 20 referendum, sponsored by the Taiwan authorities for Taiwan independence under the pretext of democracy, poses a threat to stability across the Taiwan Strait and challenges the universally acknowledged one-China principle."

    Ma, who is also a vice chairman of the Kuomintang, stressed that the stance of the "pan-blue alliance" is definitely different from that of Beijing toward the referendum.

    He explained that the "pan-blue alliance" is not opposed to the notion of holding any referendums in Taiwan to allow the people to express their opinions on major issues of interest to them and the country.

    Nevertheless, Ma said, there are too many question marks surrounding the referendum scheduled for March 20, and the voters are generally confused as to whether they should cast their referendum ballots or not.

    The "pan-blue alliance" is taking an open and neutral stance on whether alliance supporters should cast their referendum ballots or not, Ma said. "Referendums are a right of the people, and they can decide whether to abstain or not," he pointed out.

    In related news, Ma also urged the two presidential candidates to make better known their political platforms and policies rather than focusing their campaign efforts on slandering each other and on cynical electioneering schemes in the run-up to the presidential election.

    As to President Chen Shui-bian's remarks Sunday that after the "pan-blue alliance" ticket loses the election, Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng will become KMT chairman and Ma will be fielded by the KMT to run in the 2008 presidential election, Ma dismissed the comments as a campaign ploy trying to create a split in the alliance.

(By Deborah Kuo)

ENDITEM/Li



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