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2004-02-10 14:09:33

    Taipei, Feb. 10 (CNA) Premier Yu Shyi-kun said Tuesday that the results of the nation's first-ever referendum, to be held March 20 in conjunction with the presidential election, will be legally binding.

    Yu made the remarks during a general interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan.

    At the session, opposition People First Party Legislator Feng Ting-kuo asked Yu how the government will react if the results of the referendum show that a majority of the voters disagree with the proposal to negotiate with Beijing on the establishment of a mechanism for peaceful interaction or that a majority of the voters are opposed to the government purchasing more anti-missile weapons.

    In response, Yu said the Cabinet will definitely respect the referendum results which have an undisputable binding force under the Referendum Act.

    Expressing dissatisfaction with Yu's answer, Feng repeatedly pushed Yu to give an unequivocal reply. However, the premier said he couldn't answer hypothetical questions.

    Yu said he hopes all eligible voters will support the referendum and express their opinions on the two referendum questions through their ballots.

    He further said that after the referendum results come out, he will gladly explain the government's stance on the results if Legislator Feng asks him again.

    During the legislative session, Feng also asked Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min how his ministry will respond if the referendum results show that the majority of voters oppose missile procurement.

    In reply, Tang said that while national defense is a common duty of all his fellow countrymen, it is also a professional affair. "We don't like to see political meddling with defense affairs," he added.

    Last Wednesday, the Cabinet approved the two questions initiated by President Chen Shui-bian to be put to the people in the upcoming referendum: -- "The people of Taiwan demand that the Taiwan Strait issue be resolved through peaceful means. If mainland China refuses to withdraw the missiles it has targeted at Taiwan and to openly renounce the use of force against us, do you agree that the government should acquire more advanced anti-missile weapons to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities?" -- "Do 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 people of both sides?"

    During the Tuesday legislative session, Yu also reiterated the legality and constitutionality of the upcoming referendum, saying that the Referendum Act endows President Chen the right to decide the timing and content of a national referendum in terms of the nation's diplomatic and defense situations.

(By Sofia Wu)


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